Polestar's CEO Wants You to Know They Know What They're Doing
Thomas Ingenlath on why the 2 EV looks the way it does.
The Polestar 2 was presented at the 2019 Geneva auto show, where we talked with Thomas Ingenlath, chief designer for Geely-Volvo's Polestar all-electric car division. He's also its chief executive, a role that has been shared by very few designers since the age of pioneers like Ford or Renault or Lancia, who did everything at their eponymous companies. Polestar's first product for sale to the public will be available within months, with this Polestar 2 sedan—you can read my analysis of its design here—close behind the Polestar 1 coupe in the first quarter of next year. We asked Ingenlath why, specifically, this very conventional car, which could well have an internal-combustion engine if one goes by its physiognomy, would appeal to new owners.
"We think that this design will convince people that it was made by people who know what they're doing," he said while acknowledging its conventional appearance. It's clear that Ingenlath and his team—which includes leader of exterior design Maximilian Missoni and interior design leader Juan Pablo Bernal—want to reassure buyers that there was nothing of a "science project" about the first models from this highly ambitious industrial initiative. The cars are undeniably good-looking in a conservative way that convincingly demonstrates a solid competence and the traditional strength and safety-consciousness of parent Volvo. It's a combination of virtues that accomplishes the goals deemed necessary for this project.
Which, as Ingenlath emphasizes, is truly forward-looking. The Polestar 1 hybrid has a carbon-fiber body and electronically controlled suspension, and it's a resolutely sporting GT; the Polestar 2 essentially uses the Volvo S60 platform but with an all-new body shell featuring normal materials. He sees no problem with leaning on Volvo whenever and however its volume production components will help reduce costs. The idea of marketing Polestars only via the internet is part of the revolution that this all-electric brand brings to market. Not intended to be a large volume marque, Polestars 1, 2, and 3 are likely to account for no more than about 50,000 units per annum once the new factory in China is online. That's not a big number, but everyone concerned in the venture expects it to be a big success. So do we.