Electrified Volvo Polestar Division Aims To Be Legitimate Tesla Competition

4 months ago by Steven Loveday 20

Volvo Polestar

Volvo Polestar Lineup

Volvo is making the move from practical and safe to sexy and high-performance by way of its Polestar brand, and electrification is a key part of the equation.

Volvo aims to launch its Polestar performance brand with its first all-electric vehicle by 2019. It will compete with the likes of Tesla, and the BMW “i” brand. The company already has the reputation for safety, state-of-the-art technology, stylish luxury, and longevity, but it needs the Polestar reputation to turn the heads of sporty, performance-minded electric car aficionados (i.eTesla fans).

The idea isn’t new. Since 2015, when Volvo acquired Polestar, the company has had intentions to make it an independent brand for electrified performance cars. Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Automotive News Europe:

“We want to redefine the brand, moving it away from having gasoline-powered cars to offering electrification and something that we call progressive performance.”

Polestar will still share with Volvo in many ways, but the plan is to eliminate the Volvo moniker from the Polestar lineup. The automaker feels that this may help to convince people that the vehicles aren’t based on the Swedish company’s practical platform. Kelley Blue Book executive analyst, Rebecca Lindland, shared with Automotive News Europe:

Volvo

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine with Polestar Performance Optimization

“The Volvo brand itself has a very, very good reputation, but it is a very practical reputation based on safety. The Polestar name is emotional. In some ways you need to have this kind of separation.”

“Launching a new brand is really tough, it’s a lot easier to do an association. Just ask [Hyundai’s] Genesis.”

Though the Volvo name will not be present, people will still know that the automaker is behind the new brand. This positive association should help to make consumers feel secure about Polestar’s emergence in the segment.

Volvo hopes that Polestar’s racing success will draw people to the brand. When the Swedish automaker first picked up Polestar, Niels Moeller, Polestar’s COO at the time, told Automotive News Europe:

“We have the order to push our electrification efforts forward, to make it more sexy.”

We have heard that word often as of late, associated with Tesla’s vehicle lineup. Samuelsson told a German newspaper:

“We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design.”

The fact that Volvo is finally moving forward with this long-considered venture shows that the automaker sees a place for Polestar performance electric vehicles. This is primarily due to Tesla’s growing success, the shocking pre-orders for the Tesla Model 3, and the fact that there is still almost no competition in the segment.

Rather than a situation in which multiple unstable, “could-be” startups are hoping to pull off what Tesla has done, this is an established automaker with a “Tesla-like” vision and promises of a competitive product. Linland concluded:

“If Volvo can leverage their practicality while making the new brand more emotional, they could do very well.”

Source: Automotive News Europe

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20 responses to "Electrified Volvo Polestar Division Aims To Be Legitimate Tesla Competition"

  1. Mike says:

    I wish them luck, but I think there is a big difference between a PR statement saying you are going all in on EVs and realizing that Tesla has close to decade head start, especiallly when you factor in not just batteries and motors, but autonomous driving and manufacturing.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t see that Volvo has any major advantages over Tesla, or VW, BMW, or MB for that matter.

    1. CLIVE says:

      Correct.

      All Business No BS, we’ll see!

    2. Nada says:

      No reason to be harsh…
      Volvo already makes some of the safest cars on the planet and ones that can cruise down the autoban…
      Now they are switching from highly complex automatic transmisions to a single speed and from a highly complex ICE to a simple EV motor and it will be a problem for them??
      EVs are simple enough that they beought Chinese auto startups out of the woodwork and easy enough that the German Post Office entered into the EV business on their own…
      They dont need luck they just need to work and no they dont have any advantages over any other legacy companies making EVs but they dont exactly have any disadvantages to them either…
      They might be behind Tesla in EV powertrain devolpment but as reported here EVs are much simpler so it is not a big deal…

      1. Dav8or says:

        The challenge I see fro them going forward is, how much of off the shelf Volvo parts do they use? All successful BEVs to date have been built on dedicated platforms and not simply EV conversions of gas cars. The platform for a ICE vs. a PHEV vs. a BEV are all very different. Designing, building and maintaining different platforms is very expensive and the temptation will be to cut costs by fudging designs together which results in compromise.

        I hope they can keep economies of scale where it makes sense to share parts, but keep each design true to it’s core purpose.

    3. DJ says:

      Have they come out and said they’re going to offer autonomous cars? I didn’t see it in this release. As far as manufacturing go Volvo has a hell of a lot more experience there than Tesla does in general.

      Not everyone needs to or wants to make their own batteries and with reverse engineering that decade lead can quickly mean very little. All you have to do is look at China to see that.

      1. La Frennia di Mamata says:

        A good reputation….L O L…I remember The Phony Volvo Commercial where they placed a truck on Top a Volvo car & drove it to show how “STRONG” & safe lol the Volvo car was..But as it turned out the Volvo was rigged with a RE-Enforced Frame, Springs, etc: & added a Roll Cage. For That reason I would have to do much research before I considered buying a Volvo product even if the price was right…BTW ..they purchased all their drive train units from VW at one time, I don’t know if they still outsource them now..

        1. Hauer says:

          The VE drivetrain stuff is just rectally derived BS.
          (There was only one 6cyl VM diesel in the early 80s and of course the 5cyl Audi engine (only the diesel) in the 850.

      2. Mikael says:

        They are of course working on it. There are plenty of driver assist and safety features on their cars.

        They are having normal families trying fully autonomous vehicles in Gothenburg. For the last few years the self driving cars have been driving around with engineers and people from Volvo but now it is time for regular people to test the system.

        Still a few years away from fully autonomous vehicles for sale to anyone. But not many seem to be doing it faster than that.

    4. Peter says:

      Agree.
      ICE producers are trying to find a business model that replaces the services that they make so much none on today.
      The truth is that that old model is lost for ever. Even the Reault idea of producing a poor battery in there BEV and selling the car without battery. Then trying to make a lot of money on leasing the battery was a poor idea.

  2. Brave Lil' Toaster says:

    And the Toronto Maple Leafs aim to be legitimate competition for the Stanley Cup.

    Well good for them. The competition will be good for everyone. Doesn’t mean squat what your intentions are until you actually achieve something.

    1. La Frennia di Mamata says:

      No Canadian team will ever win a Stanley Cup for a Long Long time to come..The BIG market is the USA and that is where the NHL will Focus all their efforts in order to Keep The Stanley Cup in the “USA” Maintain the American Hockey Fans’ Interest at an out most “PEAK LEVEL” and Build even “A BIGGER” American Hockey Market as they go..Because, that’s where the Money is “USA” and IT’S ALL ABOUT “THE MONEY”

  3. Lawrence says:

    EV’s has made me brand agnostic. Seems to be the case for most consumers as well. Whomever creates the most compelling EV has my money. If Volvo can pull it off, then that’s great and I’ll buy. If not, I’m going elsewhere.

  4. ffbj says:

    Now that they are owned by the Chinese they need be must employ the typical Chinese braggadocio, which is all this is.

  5. leafowner says:

    Does anyone else think “stripper” when you hear Pole Star?

    Obviously a Chinese person came up with that name.

    1. Mikael says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pole_star
      Used for navigation, to find your way and have something to guide you.

      The Swedish name for it, “polstjärnan” is used in Sweden for anything from boat names, human rights organizations, in books, daycare-center name to a performance and racing company that has collaborated in racing with Volvo since 1996.

  6. cab says:

    Since we purchased an XC60 back in 2012 (or first Volvo – which I didn’t see coming), I’ve been following their progress. We also leased a Volt that same year.

    One of the more interesting plug-in hybrids since that time was the Volvo V60 wagon plug-in hybrid DIESEL. It offered better than average PHEV range and appeared to be a pretty cool (if expensive) combo (that we never got in the U.S.). That experience, of course, has lead to the XC90 T8, S90 T8 and upcoming XC60 T8 (which we should see here in the U.S.). If anything, in the luxury SUV space, Volvo seems to be practically leading the PHEV charge (at least in terms of product capability – the XC90 T8 sales lag the BMW X5 40e, but the XC90 seems more capable as a PHEV).

    They certainly aren’t starting from ground zero here.

  7. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Talk is cheap. These days, just about every auto maker says they are going to offer something to compete with Tesla. So far, nobody has.

    If and when Polestar can deliver a “legitimate” Tesla competitor, then they will deserve tons of praise. But that will happen if and only if their car gets equally praised by lots of professional car reviewers. Until then, it’s just empty talk or vaporware, the same as we’ve seen from all those other auto makers.

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