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Sportscar not a priority: Volvo

You’re the 1: The left-hand-drive-only Polestar 1 won’t make it to Australia but the subsequent Polestar 2 and 3 will be built in right-hand drive and could make it Down Under.

Launch of Polestar as standalone brand means future Volvo sportscar unlikely

5 Jan 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON

THE rollout of Polestar as a standalone performance brand means a Volvo-badged sportscar is unlikely, according to Volvo Cars senior vice president of marketing, sales and service Bjorn Annwall.

Volvo announced in June last year that it would spin its Polestar tuning arm into a standalone brand that will produce full electric and plug-in hybrid performance cars and take on the likes of Tesla and BMW’s iPerformance range of electrified models.

In October Polestar ripped the covers off its first model, simply dubbed the Polestar 1, a 2+2 two-door coupe based heavily on the Volvo Concept Coupe from the 2013 and featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain that pumps out a combined output of 447kW and 1000Nm.

Mr Annwall said the Polestar brand’s focus on performance, and specifically from electrified powertrains, meant the chances of a future Volvo-badged sportscar were slim.

“There are many top hats that you can think of expanding the Volvo product range with. A sportscar is not on the top of that list. It will come pretty far down in my mind,” he told GoAuto at the Volvo Ocean Race in Melbourne last week.

“I think, what performance is in the automotive industry is about to get radically redefined and the traditional sportscar is not where Volvo’s going.”

Volvo has had sportscars in its history, including the iconic P1800 from the 1960s and 70s, the C70 convertible from the late 1990s, as well as various performance honed versions of models such as the 240, 740 and 850 Turbo and the recent S60/V60 Polestar.

 center imageLeft: Volvo Cars senior vice president of marketing, sales and service Bjorn Annwall

Mr Annwall said the Polestar 1’s design connection to other current Volvo models was a deliberate strategy and would have a positive impact on both brands.

“The fact that Polestar shares the same language, design cues with Volvo is intentional. We want Polestar to be seen as born out of Volvo. We think that's a strength for Polestar. It gains credibility and it also … gives a positive brand effect on Volvo. That’s intentional.”

The Polestar 1 will not make it to Australia as the entire allocation of 500 units, built by parent company Geely at its Chengdu province facility, will only be produced in left-hand drive.

However, the two preceding models – the fully electric Polestar 2 and 3 – are set to be configured for right-hand drive. The Polestar 2 will be a Tesla Model 3-rivalling small sedan, while the Polestar 3 will be a larger SUV.

When asked it Volvo would follow its German and British competitors by offering sporty looking coupe versions of SUVs, Mr Annwall said Volvo was looking at a number of different alternative body styles for future models.

“We are looking at many different body styles for the future because SUVs have been now in vogue for 10 years. There will be a next body style who will be in vogue in the next 15 years maybe. I think the whole industry is in search for which body style that is and so are we, and so is Polestar, so is Lynk & Co.

“There will be new body styles coming out. Some were driven by pure styling and aerodynamics and some of it also driven by the shift to electrification. Which, of course, puts different constraints and possibilities into cars. It will open up possibilities but also put in new constraints on how we can design cars.

There will be a lot of interesting body styles coming out in the next 10 years, I’m sure.”

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