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Volvo V8 Supercar “ball in the air”

Flat out: After a lean patch, Volvo’s factory racing operation has performed well in recent rounds. The deal runs until the end of 2016.

“No regrets” about motorsport involvement from new Volvo Oz boss

Volvo logo6 Aug 2015

VOLVO’S recent acquisition of tuning house Polestar points to a faster future for the Swedish brand, and the Australian connection won’t be overlooked.

However, Volvo Australia’s racing efforts in Australia’s V8 Supercars championship series is under review, with the current contract set to run out at the end of 2016.

Volvo Australia managing director Kevin McCann pointed to the fact that the Australian market was one of the first external territories to take on Polestar’s post-purchase vehicle tuning programs, which ultimately led to the production of the S60 Polestar.

“The Polestar story is a continually evolving one and our involvement in it's been from the very beginning, especially in relation to the tuning side of it,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the XC90 in Canberra. “We were then involved from the outset in the development of the Polestar S60 version.

“Even though that car was designed and tested in Sweden, its first evolutions were in the Australian marketplace. And that's been rolled out in other parts of the world.”

The 257kW, 500Nm turbocharged AWD S60 sells at $99,950, alongside a wagon variant at $102,990. Both prices are before on-road costs.

A Polestar version of the just-launched XC90 SUV is also expected.

Mr McCann said that the Polestar acquisition, from company founder Christian Dahl, points to a ramping-up of the concept of warmed-over Volvos, after the company realised that it had reached a crossroads.

“The company has had to say ‘how far do we want to take that concept’, and when they look at it, you come to the realisation this needs a corporate level of capital investment to really achieve its goals,” he said. “So therefore they have entered into an agreement with Christian, to buy that part of the business which needs that degree of capital.”

Mr McCann added that Mr Dahl would still run Volvo’s motorsport operations, and that the two companies would “continue to be involved in motorsport”.

The future of the local touring car program, meanwhile, is under review. Volvo Australia has a contract with Melbourne-based Garry Rogers Motorsport to run two S60s in the as the V8 Supercar category until the end of 2016.

The end of the contract coincides with a change of the V8 Supercar regulations to allow non-V8 powered cars and additional body styles to enter the championship. Volvo uses a modified version of the Yahama-developed 5.4-litre petrol V8 once used in the XC90 in the series, bolted into an S60 body shell atop a V8 Supercar control chassis.

The racing deal, which has netted multiple wins and a sixth place overall result for driver Scott McLaughlin in 2014, was signed off by previous managing director Matt Braid. Mr McCann says that it is a big investment, and that the “ball is still in the air” in regards to future participation.

“We'll make the decision closer to the point in time when we have to make a decision,” he said. “In fairness to all of that, we have no disappointments or regrets about our involvement in motorsport. We needed to expand the footprint of the brand.”

Mr McCann acknowledged that the brand has benefitted from the association in more ways than one.

“Safety's still important to us. But we also needed to show Volvo as a brand with some cache, some excitement, some fun and some enjoyment. I think motorsport is a great way to do that,” he said.

“In my experience, I don't think I've met many people in one place more concerned about safety than the motorsport fraternity. That is a racetrack, and a race team and a garage, is an extremely safe place to be. So safety's a strong core value for them as well.”

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