2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
This year, Polestar is launching its first model, the Polestar 1 hybrid coupé. In an interview with Autogazette, Polestar boss Thomas Ingenlath speaks about e-mobility, sustainability and his sympathy for the Fridays for Future movement.
Thomas Ingenlath has been responsible for the design of the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo since 2012. The 55-year-old has been the head of the high-performance brand Polestar since 2017. After the 600 hp Polestar 1 with plug-in hybrid, the Polestar 2 is the first all-electric vehicle from the Volvo subsidiary.
The manager will meet for an interview at Düsseldorf Airport. Shortly before our conversation, students from the global climate movement Fridays for Future demonstrated against frequent flying in the departure hall.
I think it's good when students get involved in climate protection
Autogazette: Mr. Ingenlath, do you have any sympathy for the demonstrations by the schoolchildren who are currently taking to the streets at Fridays for Future for more climate protection?
Thomas Ingenlath: Definitely. Everyone of us thinks about how our lives will be shaped in the future due to climate change. Everyone has a responsibility to preserve this planet for future generations. So I think it's good that schoolchildren are now getting involved in more climate protection. Anyone who has children and is concerned about their future knows that things cannot go on as before.
Autogazette: How do you keep up with a sustainable lifestyle in your everyday life?
Ingenlath: I'm known in the company for driving relatively little cars. This is how I get to work by bike in all weathers. I am concerned that everyone gets into their car alone, drives 10 kilometers to work and thus unnecessarily causes traffic jams. I enjoy driving to work in the right functional clothing through wind and weather, past traffic jams. Driving also has to be accompanied by a positive emotional experience - and that's what we're trying to do with Polestar. The switch from combustion to electric cars must go hand in hand with this emotional component.
A change is an exciting challenge
Autogazette: Do you feel something like flight shame when you travel a lot by plane for work?
Ingenlath: In the meantime I am thinking about the effects a flight has on the environment and how I can personally counter this with my behavior. The idea that I pursued two or three years ago, for example to fly to China quickly and, ideally, to fly back after the meeting without an overnight stay, is no longer pursued. If I fly there now, I'll be there for several days and try to sort out as many things as possible in order to make the trip meaningful and to reduce the number of flights.
Autogazette: With your design you have helped give Volvo a modern image. Did you have a hard time swapping the job of chief designer for that of CEO of Polestar in 2017?
Ingenlath: This decision wasn't difficult for me. It is an extremely interesting job to be responsible for this brand. A change is an exciting challenge that I was happy to accept.
Autogazette: Was there never a moment when you asked yourself: Man, Thomas, can I even do that? After all, you were a creative mind as a designer until then, but you had never managed a brand.
Ingenlath: Of course. If I hadn't asked myself that, I would be naive to an extent that would automatically have disqualified me for this job.
We are also characterized by the spirit of a racing team
Autogazette: How useful does it make to build a high-performance brand, especially in the field of electromobility? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?
Ingenlath: No, because for us high performance doesn't mean driving the fastest lap on the Nürburgring. We want to create models that guarantee maximum emotion, driving pleasure and sustainability in daily use. Nevertheless, we are also characterized by the spirit of a racing team that tries from weekend to weekend to improve its performance. We pursue this spirit at Polestar.
Autogazette: Isn't Polestar's approach based on an understanding of mobility that has become obsolete? After all, should e-mobility stand for sustainability and not for cars with 600 hp?
Ingenlath:The company Tesla has proven that they go together. The attraction of mobility in humans is also characterized by the fact that they can move faster than they could themselves. The dynamics inherent in an electric car, the power that can be called up, the steady torque, the driving comfort, in connection with the practicality of the vehicle, ensure a really pleasant feeling. This cannot be denied. It is also much easier to bring sustainability to mobility with new solutions and thus to offer the special mobility experience that we know from the past under different conditions in the future. We have to enable sustainability while retaining pleasurable and joyful elements. This is the only way to help make electromobility more popular.
«Nothing has changed in our planning»
Autogazette: The Polestar 1, a hybrid coupe with 600 hp, was originally scheduled to hit the market in mid-2019. Now it won't come until spring 2020. Why?
Ingenlath: How did you come up with that? We have just opened our new plant in Chengdu and are starting series production. As planned, we will be delivering the first vehicles to customers in the second half of 2019. However, if you now go to the configurator and order a vehicle, you will receive the information that the vehicle will only be delivered in the coming year. That means that others were faster with their order than you and have occupied the production.
Autogazette: How many vehicles will be delivered this year?
Ingenlath: We only build 500 cars in a full year of production. This year we are ramping up production and will not yet reach full capacity in the first few weeks. This is completely normal and is primarily used for quality assurance. I assume that we will deliver 100 to 120 vehicles worldwide this year.
Autogazette: Originally, you only wanted to build 500 Polestar 1 units. Has this planning changed?
Ingenlath: Nothing has changed in our planning. As I said, the figure of 500 vehicles refers to a full year of production and we plan to build the Polestar 1 over three years, i.e. 1500 cars in total. It stays that way. It is part of the project that we adhere to this limit. This also defines the aura of the vehicle. But it is also due to the availability of the battery capacity and the way we build this car that we are not planning on larger quantities. The Polestar 1 is very complex, very time-consuming to produce. You can only produce one and a half to two vehicles per day in shifts.
Polestar 1 is the extreme of the niche vehicle
Autogazette: Do you feel comfortable in the role of this niche provider ?
Ingenlath: No, that's why we defined the bandwidth with the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 at the start and also announced a third model that will follow in the medium term. The Polestar 1 is the extreme of the niche vehicle at a price of 155,000 euros. With the Polestar 2 we are aiming for larger quantities. We're talking about mass production. In the first year we will be offering the Polestar 2 at a price of just under 60,000 euros, before it will be available with a smaller battery and modified equipment at a later date at a price of just under 40,000 euros. We are thus in competition with a Tesla Model 3, which is similarly dimensioned.
Autogazette: Do you mind that you keep being referred to as a Tesla competitor?
Ingenlath: It bothers me, but I've learned to live with the fact that the media are calling us Tesla killers. I have to come to terms with that. I also understand that this comparison is chosen: Both models compete in the same segment and have many similarities in terms of their basic conception, but they are completely different in their design.
Discussion is conducted far too dogmatically
Autogazette: Tesla is currently struggling to manufacture the Model 3. Do you see the hype being made about the brand as justified given the brand's problems?
Ingenlath: I take my hat off to what management has achieved there. Over the past ten years I have seen it again and again how my colleagues or the press see their ex every week
odus from Tesla. But Tesla still exists.
Autogazette: What role do the plug-in hybrids play for you? Some consider this to be nonsense.
Ingenlath: A plug-in hybrid is currently one of the most sensible vehicles and a solution on the way to fully electric cars. Starting with the Polestar 2, we will only be bringing purely battery-electric vehicles onto the market. The Polestar 1 is still a plug-in hybrid, which has certainly caused criticism. But the discussion is being conducted far too dogmatically, because with the Polestar 1 you experience the benefits of electric driving to a large extent - and that's what it's all about. The battery is big enough for a range of at least 100 kilometers, if I drive particularly sensibly, I can get to 150 kilometers.
You have to show your colors once in a while
Autogazette: How do you assess VW's focus on e-mobility and the demand for an end to technology openness ?
Ingenlath: I welcome this statement. The customer needed a clear statement that the next few years would be fully focused on this new drive technology. For the here and now, electromobility is the relevant technology. You have to show your colors here. You don't rule out the possibility of bringing a hydrogen vehicle, for example, at some point in the long term. However, I would like to point out that anyone who says that hydrogen is the better technology is ignoring the fact that there will be advances in battery technology too.
We put a lot of intelligence into this vehicle
Autogazette: If you take a look at the premium manufacturers, Audi and Co. initially brought electric SUVs onto the market. You come in a limousine. Why?
Ingenlath: With the Polestar 2, we managed not to simply build an electric vehicle on a sandwich floor. We've put so much intelligence into this vehicle that we still have a large battery. As a non-SUV, in terms of price and design, the car is entering an area in the electronics market where it is a very good alternative. Our design standards were also different, which is why we did not include yellow or blue stripes on the vehicle to show that it is an electric car. The Polestar 2 is a departure into the avant-garde.
Autogazette: The Polestar 2 will be the Volvo Car Group's first all-electric car before the XC40 follows in 2020. Despite the many announcements, Volvo will not have a purely electric car by then.
Ingenlath: If you look at what Volvo has to offer, electrification has come a long way. In addition to gasoline and diesel engines, a plug-in hybrid is offered in almost the entire range. In addition, the first models are equipped with a mild hybrid. And the offer is continuously expanding. Sometimes it is easier to change the world through evolution than to wait for the revolution. When I give people the hybrid experience, I have opened the door to electric mobility.
Will experience a huge push from 2020
Autogazette: What are your sales expectations for the Polestar 2? The number of 50,000 units circulated per year.
Ingenlath: In the first year we will be a long way from this number. But in the course of the vehicle's life we will come across similar numbers. We'll see whether they are above or a little below.
Autogazette: When do you see the market ramp-up of e-mobility, as early as 2020?
Ingenlath: I think that we will experience a huge push from 2020, not only through our vehicles, but also through the many models that will then come onto the market from many manufacturers.
Frank Mertens conducted the interview with Thomas Ingenlath
With the Precept concept car, Polestar is showing how the future of the brand is imagined at the Geneva Motor Show. The focus is on sustainability
The check is done quickly and could save lives in an emergency. Before starting your vacation, the tires of the car should be checked thoroughly
The Jeep Renegade marks a turning point for the American off-road vehicle specialist. The smallest model since the original Jeep symbolizes despite
Mercedes is entering a new segment. The new X-Class should open up a new world for the Stuttgart-based company, just as the M-Class did exactly 20 years ago
Chevrolet begins a new chapter in the company's recent history with the Aveo. The three-door Kalos successor is the first model in Europe