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Polestar goes electric under new Volvo sub-brand

Sign of change: Polestar’s new range of high-performance electrified vehicles will carry the Polestar badge, not Volvo’s.

Volvo says Polestar will become its global high-performance electric car brand

22 Jun 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

VOLVO’S performance car arm, Polestar, is set to go electric under its own global stand-alone sub-brand to take on the likes of Tesla and BMW’s iPerformance.

The Chinese-owned Swedish company promises that Polestar’s new range of “bespoke” and “world-beating” electrified vehicles will continue to deliver high performance in the Polestar tradition, although it has not said when the first model will be delivered or if it will come to Australia.

We presume “electrified” includes hybrids as well as full-electric variants, and that “bespoke” means greater styling differentiation from mainstream Volvos, courtesy of Volvo Cars design vice-president Thomas Ingenlath who has been named founding chief executive officer of the new-look Polestar division.

Announcing Mr Ingenlath’s appointment, Volvo Cars president and chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said the appointment showed Volvo’s commitment to establishing Polestar as “a truly differentiated stand-alone brand within the Volvo Car Group”.

“Polestar will be a credible competitor in the emerging global market for high performance electrified cars,” Mr Samuelsson said. “With Polestar, we are able to offer electrified cars to the world’s most demanding, progressive drivers in all market segments.”

The company says it will make further announcements about the Polestar transformation in the (northern) autumn, which could point to a Frankfurt motor show publicity blitz in September.

Volvo Car Australia director corporate and PR Greg Bosnich told GoAuto today that while Polestar would be a global brand, the Australian operation had no information yet on any plans for a Polestar rollout in Australia.

“We haven’t been told whether the cars will be coming here or not coming,” he said.

 center imageLeft: Polestar chief executive officer Thomas Ingenlath

Polestar, which was acquired by Volvo in 2015, started out as an independently-owned Volvo touring car racing team – now called Cyan Racing – which dabbled in modifications for Volvo road cars in Sweden, in a similar fashion to Tom Walkinshaw’s Holden Special Vehicles in Australia.

The relationship firmed into a serious partnership in 2010 when Polestar was tapped by Volvo to develop high-performance road cars to be sold through the official Volvo sales channels, including Australia where the six-cylinder turbo Volvo S60 Polestar went on sale in Australia in mid-2013.

That model was dropped from the Australian range early last year. Volvo dealers still sell Polestar Performance Optimisation packages for regular models, including one for the new plug-in hybrid XC90 T8 that lifts both power and torque.

Those optimisation packages will still be available under the new Polestar arrangement, but will be called Polestar Engineered.

In Australia, Polestar marketing was supported by Volvo’s participation in the V8 Supercar series with a pair of S60 sedans campaigned by Garry Rogers Motorsport and supported by Polestar Racing in Sweden.

That effort evaporated last year when Volvo withdrew its support for the program and demanded the return of its race cars.

The new road-going Polestar cars will not carry the Volvo badge but will be based on Volvo mass-produced models under the skin.

Says Volvo: “Polestar will enjoy specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefit from significant economies of scale as a result of its connection to Volvo. These synergies will allow it to design, develop and build world-beating electrified high performance cars.”

Polestar becomes just the latest automotive sub-brand under the ownership of China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group which acquired Volvo from Ford in 2010, in the depths of the global financial crisis.

Since then, Geely has founded a new brand, Lynk & Co, which is set to take Geely’s Chinese-made products to the world.

As well, it recently snapped up a large slice of Malaysia’s Proton and its English niche sports-car-maker, Lotus.

Apart from these car brands, it also owns Drive Systems International (DSI), the Australian transmission company formerly called Borg Warner.

DSI now makes its transmissions in China for a wide range of Chinese vehicles, but the engineering work is largely still done in Australia at DSI’s research and development centre in Springvale, an eastern suburb of Melbourne.

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