Polestar CEO: “We don’t want to destroy Tesla…”
Soon there will be a new car brand on the market: Polestar. CEO Thomas Ingenlath has high hopes for the brand: “We don’t want to kill Tesla, our first aim is to expand the until now poor choice of electric vehicles and prosper doing this.”
Until now Thomas Ingenlath was mostly known as design chief at Volvo and visual father of all the more recent Volvo products. Since the end of last year he’s the CEO of a new Volvo/Geely offshoot, the completely new car manufacturer, Polestar, who is going to produce only electrified vehicles.
When you talk electric propulsion, Tesla is never far away. Also when a new player comes in the field, he is immediately asked if his product(s) is/are Tesla killers. Ingenlath doesn’t want to see it like this:
“Our Polestar 2 is a valid alternative for the Tesla Model 3 when you talk technology or price setting. Customers will compare, of course, but it surely isn’t our ambition to kill Tesla, we want to broaden the offer of electric cars, the consumer has a very restricted choice at the moment. We want to come with beautiful, exciting cars that are also electrically driven and a perfect alternative for petrol or diesel vehicles.”
Ingenlath was rather impressed when he drove a Tesla Model S for the first time a couple of years ago. “Tesla inspired me to discover what an electrical car can make possible. When I drove a Tesla for the first time, I was amazed that they could hold their promise about the range, and also emotionally impressed by the fantastic acceleration it could offer.”
At first sight, the cars that Polestar will be launching could also have had the Volvo name tag. Why change?
“When you have made such a solid and transparent name, like Volvo, it’s better not experiment with it. Volvo stands for safe and stressless driving and it has to stay like this. With Polestar we can be a pioneer, an innovator, try things out. Here we don’t have to take a rich heritage or traditions into account. We don’t have to bother about loyal customers or huge production quantities. At Polestar we are looking for a more challenging way of driving. Sometimes it’s better to keep brands apart, you don’t mix French and Italian cuisine either.”
Innovating indeed, but it can be dangerous to have no alternative for electric drive at all, especially when electrification is still more expensive…
“You can ask yourself if an expanding electrification will increase or decrease prices. History teaches us that the continuous development of technology has a positive effect on prices, they tend to lower. Today electric cars are still more expensive, but we try to solve this problem by not selling cars but renting them, like you have a subscription or something. It’s a sort of private lease, so people don’t have to make a huge investment at once or worry about the residual value.”
From the six countries Polestar is immediately aiming at, the Netherlands are part of them. Is there some specific reason?
“Of course, because electric driving has been warmly welcomed by the Dutch. Proportionally there are already a lot of electric cars, the government supports electric driving and the charging infrastructure is developing well. That’s a key factor, remember how fast the mobile phone has integrated itself in society?”
The first Polestar product, Polestar 1, will be on sale in the Netherlands half of 2019. It’s not a full electric car but a plug-in hybrid in a 2+2 coupe form, based on the Volvo SPA platform architecture. It has an engine output of 600 horsepower combined and 1.000 Nm of maximum torque. The range of this fully electrically PHEV is an impressive 150 kilometre.
One year later there will be Polestar 2, fully electric, and this is the car that will be cheaper and a direct competitor to the Tesla Model 3 and other models of this size and price. After that, Polestar 3 will be the first fully electric SUV of the brand.
Parent companies, Geely and Volvo, have foreseen to invest 680 million euro in a first phase in Polestar, building a small but modern and environmentally friendly factory in Chengdu, China. The production is flexible and several models can be produced at the same time, especially because all of them use some Volvo underpinnings. There’s the benefit of joined development and purchasing as well.