By on July 14, 2015

Polestar STCC

The fraternity of automotive journalism was atwitter when blue Polestar Volvos arrived at the Chicago auto show last year. While the cars delivered increased performance and looks to match, Polestar also gave the high-performance Swedish offerings credibility with racing programs in Scandinavia (STCC) and Australia (V8 Supercars).

It’s no secret, though, that Volvo’s marketing head, Alain Visser, sees no future for the brand in motorsport. Purchasing Polestar might be the Swedish manufacturer’s way of ending at least one of its racing contracts while still holding on to the blue-hot Polestar brand.

Speaking with Swedish media late last year, Visser plainly stated, “Motorsport does not conform with our brand, where we stand for smaller engines and safety. We are therefore pulling out of STCC, for example, as soon as the contracts permits.”

This goes along with Volvo’s official statement this morning where the only mention of Volvo’s motorsport involvement with Polestar is the automaker intention to not purchase the racing part of the Polestar organization. That’s it. Nothing is mentioned regarding the successes shared by the two parties in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship or V8 Supercars Australia.

But, what exactly is Polestar, anyway?

Polestar can be split into three distinct parts: the racing team contesting both STCC and V8 Supercars series; Polestar Performance AB, which makes go-fast aftermarket parts for Volvos; and Polestar Holding AB, the owner of all of Polestar’s trademarks.

Volvo, in their effort to exit racing, has chosen to purchase the last two, opting to leave now-former Polestar owner Christian Dahl with the racing team that will be renamed later.

This is a clever move by Volvo. It allows the company to continue its use of the Polestar name and also retain engineers and other knowledge at Polestar for future branded models while no longer having to fund the expensive endeavors of motorsport. By purchasing Polestar, Volvo can effectively end the contract it now has with itself. Christian Dahl is then free to continue his passion for racing, funded by a Viking Karve-sized load of cash from the Chinese.

Will Polestar be as successful now that its motorsport links have now become heritage? We will just have to wait and see.

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18 Comments on “Volvo Could Be Buying Polestar To Exit Motorsport...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    So it’s less sinister than I was presuming. That is unless, as I was positing, that Polestar turns into little more than a trim line. Or Volvo kills it just to get rid of the “hot” Volvo image all together.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Occam’s Razor would suggest that Volvo sees this as their AMG-style opportunity.

    I’m going to guess that Polestar probably isn’t equipped to handle the extra volume that Volvo wants, so Volvo will have to grow it. The easiest way to do that is for Volvo to buy the bits that it wants. Volvo doesn’t want the racing, so it won’t pay for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I dunno.

      Wehen Volvo’s marketing guy says “we see no future in motorsport” and talks all about “small engines and safety”, it makes me think they’re not taking an AMG turn.

      Does anyone know what the take rates are on the R-spec models?

      (I test drove a V60R last year. It went pretty damned well.

      But I ended up with an XC70 T6, because I wanted some clearance and slightly cushier ride, and more space.

      And the T6 will take – for about $1500 for having the dealer press a button – the same tune as the R series.

      Heck, what’s the take rate on the T6 vs the other trims, on the non-R-having models?

      Maybe most Volvo buyers just don’t care about speed and never will.)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Volvo is on record as wanting to increase volume.

        A dinky tuning shopping is not going to have the capacity to simply crank up the volume to double its output. That will take resources.

        There is no reason for an outside investor to fund that expansion. There is only one company in the world that would possibly want to buy into this thing for the purpose of tweaking more Volvos, and that company is Volvo.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    “I love motor sports, but I would never invest the company’s money in it. I would be pleased to see a business plan that shows this actually leads to profits. If you analyze 100 sponsorship deals you will learn that the son of one of the board members very often is participating in the sport. Therefore, this decision is not always based on rational reasons.”

    Volvo Global Marketing Head Alain Visser, on Volvo’s involvement in motorsports.

  • avatar
    CH1

    Volvo’s STCC contract with Polestar ends this year and the season is already past the halfway mark. The V8 Supercars contract ends next year. It makes absolutely no sense that Volvo would purchase Polestar in order to get out of racing. All that’s needed to do that is to not renew those contracts. Furthermore, the purchase has no impact on the contracts since the purchase excludes the racing operations, which will be renamed.

    Volvo bought Polestar for the tuning operations and the already established brand.

    • 0 avatar

      I understand (though I should have put that in the piece). For Volvo, running another season (next year) in V8 Supercars is probably a fairly large line item and that money could probably be better used elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        CH1

        Volvo’s involvement in V8 Supercars is through a partnership between GRM and Polestar Racing. The Volvo purchase excludes Polestar Racing. Regardless, the contract with GRM is still in force.

    • 0 avatar

      Additionally, if Volvo didn’t buy Polestar, Christian Dahl would still want to go racing under the Polestar name. If Volvo didn’t want anything to do with future racing, Polestar would have to find another marque to associate itself with, which would ruin Volvo’s exclusive use of the Polestar aura.

  • avatar
    wmba

    A mere pimple of a curiosity. Ill-argued, no doubt by design because nothing makes any sense, so the “Befuddle” button was hit twice for effect.

  • avatar
    Baldpeak

    Most racing series that I know of are very keen on smaller engines and safety.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    An irrelevant automaker buys an irrelevant performance group, to form an irrelevant automaker with body skirts and none of the performance from the performance group.

    There’s got to be a cheaper way to get engineers, the engineers that worked building V8s and performance features, probably don’t give a damn about electric cars and “mass-market” gerbil engines. So unless Volvo is planning some big raises and great benefits, what’s to keep polestar a worthwhile venture? The name certainly doesn’t mean anything to 99.9% of potential Volvo buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Well the excitement is more evidence of how overly important enthusiasts think they are.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      Says the guy with an irrelevant brand as a username and avatar.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        At least mine never got bought by China or lost its plot.

        What exactly does Volvo have going in its favor?

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          Volvo has one thing going in its favor: the ability to bestow Prius-like, and perhaps Tesla-like, eco cred on a collection of owners, former owners and future owners who want to feel like they are driving ecologically sound vehicles that can also outperform most of the other vehicles in their class.

          The fact that this may not in fact be true, but rather might only be an image projected upon those oh-so-trendy and oh-so-PC-correct Volvo owners, past, present and future, is all that is required to keep them as a captive audience.s

          And they will be able to humblebrag that their new Volvos will be faster than Prium and more eco-friendly than Teslae. (Those are my plurals, and I’m sticking to them.)

          And like lambs to the slaughter, Volvo will build them, with large dollops of panache and hollow engineering imagery, and the sheep will enter the pasture.

          This was the nature of the typical Volvo owner in the 80’s, and it will be that demographic that Volvo will be hoping to corral with a sporty/eco image.

          Though the irony will probably be that an EcoBoost Mustang will probably be able to outperform their new offerings in all the major domains: eco, performance, and cost.

          I could be wrong, but watch this space and see what happens in the next two years.

          This will not be a Volvo deathwatch…it will be a Volvo sheep-shearing contest, one which could well run for years.

          And in the end, this could be the way that Volvo will most help Ford, as a way to steer all the remaining sheep and not-so-sheep towards a more honest car (except for the fake exhaust note!) than the Volvo shell game that passes for engineering.

          Laissez le bontemps Volvos roulez!

          PT Barnum would be delighted to see his ideas affirmed in the real world once more.

          And Volvo will be able to introduce new types of snake oil galore, with all that R&D plus a pseudo-halo emanating from Sweden.

          Yeah, hey, a true liberal’s eco-performance toy, one to be proudly flaunted to friends and enemies alike.

          That is what Volvo has going in its favor.

          And while it may all be smoke and mirrors, the faithful will stay the price to be able to enter into, and travel along, the green highways of the Emerald City of Volvodom, or was that supposed to be Volvo-dumb?

          I always get confused when I try to explain why otherwise rational and successful individuals think that their new Volvo is the 21st century equivalent of that old 240 they know of a quarter to a half a century ago, that ran and ran forever, compared to the 60K-100K shelf life cars the rest of the world was turning out back then.

          Those days are dead and gone, except in the minds of the Volvo faithful. And they still exist, and still have money to burn in demonstrating their commitment to those monuments to their gullible following of supposed eco & performance vehicles.

          It is sort of like the kind of people who think that they are getting more than a large cup of coffee when they pay $5 for a veinte, when in reality, as Jackie Mason correctly noted, “It is NOT dark roasted! The coffee is BURNT!”

          And the Volvo is not an engineering marvel, it is a marvel that they can call that engineering.

          The last two really good, honest Volvos that were made were the 240 and the P1800.

          All else has been too much for too little for too long, protected by a false image of Swedish social cooperation in the effective manufacturing of supposedly low cost cars, relative to the supposed value that they delivered.

          If you ask me nicely, I’ll tell you how I really feel about Volvo in my next post. In the meantime, you’ll have to get by with just my elevator speech on why “not Volvo”, a/k/a “Take the Volvo…PLEASE!”.


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