The transformation of Polestar from Volvo’s performance tuning division to its own EV-specific brand never made much sense, but it seems to have worked out well for Polestar as they continue separate themselves further from Volvo, both legally and aesthetically, rather than being reabsorbed.
If Polestar is supposed to be legally and creatively different than Volvo, why do they still look almost exactly the same. The taillights of the Volvo EX90 are definitely Polestar and the upcoming Polestar 3 is the exact same as this EX90 with a few different bits…
It’s like the “copy my work but make it look different” meme…
I’m trying to think of another premium brand that spun off a sub-brand like this … I can’t. Polestar was separate then bought by Volvo, like AMG to mercedes.
Sub brands make sense when there’s positioning that is hard to overcome. Like Hyundai spinning off Genesis because everyone think of cheap crappy cars.
Don’t get me wrong the whole situation is weird, unprecedented, confusing, and probably not the best business strategy in terms of differentiating Polestar in the market, but it’s understandable that they haven’t drifted too far from Volvo yet given how long it takes to create even a concept car, much less a production model.
The Polestar 2 is almost exactly a production versions of the Volvo 40.2 concept, which only just came out in 2016 when Polestar wasn’t even yet working publicly on their own models (though I’d assume they were working behind closed doors.) The legal and studio splits didn’t happen until late 2023, so I’m not surprised even something as nascent stage as the Polestar O2 concept still looks a lot like a Volvo - at the time it was designed the studios were still very much the same.
I kind of feel for the Polestar designers who, like the meme you referenced, were likely directed to “Use the work we already did on the Volvos…but go a different direction from the Volvos…but not too different…we’re still not technically different companies.”
I’d expect (and hope) anything from Polestar that’s being created from the ground up post-split will take a more drastic departure as they try to find their own design language. If not…oof. That will be a tough story to tell.
I agree that none of this makes sense from the outside and everything here is wild speculation. I’m a little embarrassed to be commenting at all but…
Volvo wanted to sell their their truck division and Ford went to go buy it and decided they wanted the cars and not the trucks. Ford sold the cars to Geely. 5 years later Volvo bought 100% polestar and repackaged it as 100% electric development effort. Volvo wants to go electric and Polestar is 100% electric.
I think Polestar exists as part of a multi-year development process and bookkeeping exercise.
They could also be currently internally developing their own “chassis”.
I think we need to step outside of the designers mindset for a bit. Having had this car for 4 months a lot of people have stopped me to talk about it, more than any other car I’ve owned. Not a single person connected it to looking like a Volvo. Just today Kristina was dropping off Enzo at doggy daycare, she was stopped at a red light next to a street car stop when three women waiting for the train asked what kind of car it was, she said it was a Polestar and one said “looking good”.
I don’t pretend to know what happened on the strategic side of Geely, who owns Volvo and ultimately I’m sure made this decision. I would there were assume a number of factors. The Volvo brand is a lot of positive things… but it isn’t very cool to a broader audience outside of designers and architects. At least in the US, traditionally, it has always been seen as a bit, well dowdy at worst, maybe nerd ironic cool at best. It never quite made it into the MB, BMW, Audi conversation, though Ford were better stewards of the brand than GM was of SAAB. I suspect Polestar was a way of making an edgier brand long term. Also, at the time, EV makers in the US lost their federal tax credits at 250,000 units. Tesla and GM had both hit their cap. By having two separate entities this allowed Volvo and Polestar to double their tax credits… the law changed last summer making that point moot, but it may have been a factor.
Just because something has never been done, doesn’t make it a bad idea.
That all makes sense, and I definitely see the attempt at a “cool” factor in Polestar that Volvo has never had. It’s definitely what Volvo was after with the 40.1 (which eventually became the less striking but still pretty nice XC40) and the 40.2 (Polestar 2) concepts. Whether they want it or not, Volvo is effectively the “anti-cool” brand in the US. Case in point, one of the better jokes in “School of Rock” is that when you get to the end of the movie all of the quintessentially boring, WASP-y, private school parents show up for the final performance in identical Volvos.
I think with any of the future models/concepts Polestar has put out in the past couple of years if you took away the “Thor’s Hammer Headlights” that have been the defining feature of the Volvo aesthetic since their post-Ford ownership makeover, there would only be tangential connections at best between the design languages. I’m excited for the future of both brands…though I probably still won’t be able to afford either of them new (whomp whomp sound effect.)
I promised myself I wasn’t going to post anymore speculation, and I feel this doesn’t technically qualify as speculation…
Here is an interview and I should have checked the time stamp but I didn’t.
At some point these describe the 2 approaches and John McElroy describes the choice legacy automakers had to face 5 years ago brought on by regulations. Build a new EV platform from the ground-up or building some sort of middling platform. McElroy believes that starting from scratch was the way to go and believes the legacy makers that didn’t will be at disadvantage.