Thursday, July 30, 2015

Polar Alignment: Volvo Takes Total Control of Polestar

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


It is an art for a premium automobile brand to provide a special aura around their vehicles. Historically, there are two ways to win over an affluent clientele. The first method is luxury features such as leather seating and advanced technology suites provide a comfort-oriented impression of high-end motoring. Another way a premium marque attracts special prominence is through performance. While luxury cars would often deliver more than enough power for a boulevard ride, the recent direction has been to infusing outright, pavement-burning high-performance into a model line-up. In doing so, boutique performance groups have grown inside popular luxury brands. BMW has their M models, Cadillac features a V line and Mercedes-Benz adds sensationalism to their vehicle lin-up through AMG.

In 2013, Volvo joined the tailored high-performance fight through a partnership with a Swedish motorsport team. Founded in 1996, Polestar Racing instantly developed a relationship with Volvo on the track in touring cars. After 13 years of facilitating a racing problem using Volvo vehicles, Polestar was appointed an official performance partner with the auto company. In 2013, Volvo drew Polestar into the production car spotlight with special versions of the S60 and V60 serving as the first examples of a merging Swedish personality. Produced in limited numbers, Canadian offerings from the Polestar line for 2015 consisted of an S60 and V60 variant. The 345-horsepower vehicle line is equipped with a twin-scroll Borg Warner turbocharger, Ohlins shocks as well as a full-flow exhaust in addition to reworked exterior and interior styling. Only 750 versions of the Volvo S60 Polestar and V60 Polestar have been produced for a worldwide market.

Earlier this month, the temptation of Polestar vehicles proved even too irresistible for Volvo Cars. On July 14th, Volvo announced they have acquired a whole ownership of Polestar’s Performance and the Polestar brand making the motorsport-bred organization an in-house operation inside the Swedish automaker. A company founded by Christian Dahl as a race team, Polestar will continue to stand for performance by Volvo vehicles. "We are extremely satisfied with the way the performance business with Volvo has developed. But we are a racing team first and foremost. This is an opportunity to return our full attention to our core business – to develop and race Volvo cars," said Dahl. The former owner of Polestar will be part of the new 100-percent volvo-owned entity but retains his race team which he will rename.

Foreseeing sales between 1,000 and 1,500 cars per year attached to the Polestar brand, Volvo wants to maintain an exclusivity with the performance line for the interim basis. President and chief executive of Volvo Cars HÃ¥kan Samuelsson explained, "Driving a Volvo Polestar is a special experience. We have decided to bring this experience to more Volvo drivers, placing the full resources of Volvo behind the development of Polestar as the model name for our high performance cars," The automaker also hints they are seeking to use the nameplate in connection with twin engine electrification hybrid powertrain technology.

In fact, the relationship between Volvo and Polestar has taken a page from the Mercedes AMG book. At one time two completely different companies, Mercedes-Benz and AMG eventually realized the importance of formal togetherness. In 1999, Mercedes-Benz began unification with the German performance house. The current Mercedes AMG was formed in 2005 guaranteeing the tri-star badge would have an exclusive factory identification for potent street machines.

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