BERLIN (Reuters) - Chinese automaker Geely will unveil the first model in its new global car brand, Lynk & Co, on Thursday, a compact SUV that it hopes will appeal to urban customers due to a feature that enables owners to rent it out to others when not in use.
The brand is part of Geely's efforts to broaden its appeal by tackling the middle market. It will be rolled out across China from next year and will go on sale in Europe and the United States in 2018.
The SUV model, called '01', will be the first vehicle based on the Complex Modular Architecture (CMA) platform developed by Geely and Volvo, which Geely acquired six years ago.
The carmaker is targeting tech-savvy drivers. Registered owners will be able to rent out their car to others using the Lynk & Co app and a shareable digital key, said Alain Visser, a senior vice president at Lynk & Co.
"The new model for car ownership and the smart comfort that modern tech communication offers is designed to fill a much-needed gap in today's car industry," Visser said in a statement.
China's economic growth is at its slowest in a quarter of a century, but Geely, under Chairman Li Shufu, beat the industry growth rate last year and has turned around Volvo's fortunes.
The aim is for Lynk & Co-brand cars to compete with Chinese foreign venture brands, such as those produced jointly by General Motors and SAIC Motor Corp, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
Geely said the car, to be presented at a special event in Berlin, will be priced competitively and have a fixed pricing model for all markets with Lynk & Co controlling both customer relations and the distribution channels. It did not give a specific price however.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Additional reporting by Jake Spring in Beijing; Editing by Adrian Croft)