Volvo will challenge Tesla, BMW i with stand-alone Polestar brand

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In the past, Polestar models, such as this high-powered S60 derivative, included the Volvo logo. That won’t be the case in the future.

Volvo will challenge Tesla Motors and BMW’s i subbrand by turning its Polestar unit into a global stand-alone brand for high-performance electrified models.

“With Polestar, we are able to offer electrified cars to the world’s most demanding, progressive drivers in all market segments,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Polestar will be a credible competitor in the emerging global market for high-performance electrified cars.”

The Swedish automaker has picked design chief Thomas Ingenlath to be CEO at Polestar, which previously functioned as Volvo’s answer to BMW M and Mercedes-AMG in the niche for powerful, highly tuned vehicles.

“Thomas heading up the Polestar organization shows our commitment to establishing a truly differentiated stand-alone brand within the Volvo Car Group,” Samuelsson said.

Said Ingenlath: “I am really excited to take up the challenge of establishing this exciting brand, developing a fabulous portfolio of bespoke products and channeling the passion we have throughout the Polestar team. The next chapter in Polestar’s history is just beginning.”

Ingenlath, who has helped push Volvo to record global sales by leading the design of models such as the award-winning XC90, will be joined at Polestar by Jonathan Goodman, who will become chief operating officer. Goodman started as Volvo’s senior vice president of corporate communication in September 2014 after holding a similar post at PSA Group.

Economies of scale

Polestar will benefit from technological and engineering synergies as well as economies of scale from being part of Volvo Cars, however, its models will no longer include the Volvo logo.

Polestar will reveal its product and commercial plans in the autumn.

Volvo Cars acquired 100 percent of Polestar Performance in July 2015. Prior to the purchase, Polestar was an independent firm that Volvo hired to jointly develop high-performance versions of its vehicles. The companies also have been working together in motorsports since 1996.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.


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