Volvo and its recently purchased tuning arm Polestar initially paired up to make powered-up petrolhead cars. But that won’t be the way the two companies combine in the future, CarAdvice can reveal.
The Polestar arm as we currently know it, is set to be retired when the current-generation S60 and V60 Polestar models finish up within the next 18-24 months, and it is likely that the Polestar brand will then be applied to plug-in hybrid and electric models with a performance bent. For the uninitiated, Polestar is to Volvo as HSV is to Holden... kind of.
At the 2017 Detroit motor show, Volvo Cars America president and CEO Lex Kerssemakers told CarAdvice the Scandinavian marque acquired Polestar to transform it from a power-up program to something more, er, powered up.
“We bought it because we saw the potential, but we also see a change in society, moving from pure horsepower cars, V8s, and that’s why we went for the four-cylinder turbo technology,” Kerssemakers said.
“How we see Polestar in the future is always linked to some sort of electrification,” he said.
“We bought it now, we’re still selling the S60 and V60 Polestar models for another one-and-a-half or two years, and we are now redefining how we are going to take Polestar into another step.
“We will soon talk about it to the outside world.”
When asked if there will be anything seen from the Polestar brand in the meantime – 18 to 24 months in the automotive world is seemingly a lifetime, nowadays – Kerssemakers said “no”.
“There is always a plan, but there’s nothing yet to talk about. We acquired the company about eight months ago and we need to see how we are going to do it. Of course we have thoughts, otherwise we would have never acquired the company,” he said.
“We’re still not there. We’re still internally seeing where we are going to focus on,” he said, before stating that whatever happened the Polestar models would be “performance a la Volvo”.
Volvo Cars CEO and chairman of the board, Hakan Samuelsson, said the future of Polestar may take a while to become clear, but it will be high-tech – there will not a fossil-fuel-filling focus.
“Premium high-performance cars will probably be attractive in the future, but we have a feeling they will not be based on gasoline combustion engine,” Samuelsson. “They will be more performance with electric powertrains: first step will be electric boost with downsized combustion engines, but more electric twin-engines – but, long-term, also pure electric, which has very high performance also.
“That would likely be where we would like to develop the brand as a next step. And not having a conventional high-horsepower gasoline, like an AMG or something like that. That’s not our benchmark,” Samuelsson said.
In Australia at least you can option Polestar sporting kit on some models – we recently tested the Volvo V40 with a Polestar Perfomance package (pictured above) – and it could well be that with the new-generation models the Polestar packaging could be applied to the plug-in hybrid variants.
“It’s not just enough to lower the CO2,” Samuelsson said. “It should also give some performance and that’s why we said that, commercially, the most attractive approach today is twin-engine plug-in concept, where you get lower CO2 but you get 400 horsepower of performance [almost 300kW combined power output], five seconds from 0-100km/h, all-wheel drive and you can also be environmentally conscious.
“That is now more than 10 per cent of our XC90 sales,” he said of the T8 ‘twin-engine’ model. “It’s also sold as an alternative to a six-cylinder or an eight-cylinder. That’s an example of how you can create something that you can sell on the market.”
Samuelsson confirmed every model in the new Volvo range – including the S60, V60, XC60 and XC40 small SUV – would have a T8 plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
“All of our cars will have that. The range is about 50 kilometres, but then it also brings you much higher performance, 400 horsepower, and all-wheel drive. So it’s a higher value package.”
Kerssemakers said the T8 drivetrain had already proved popular with XC90 buyers because “it has V8 power for the efficiency of a very efficient four-cylinder car”.
We can't argue with that, given it has up to 300kW/640Nm and uses a claimed 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle...