Teachers and schools can have a huge effect on their pupils’ future careers. Car makers are acutely aware of that as they seek talented, creative young people to produce the motors of tomorrow.
Polestar chief executive Thomas Ingenlath told me he thanks his grammar school philosophy teacher in Germany, Frau Tzimas, for his position at Polestar as it enters a pivotal era of expansion, including the launch of the new second generation Polestar 2 from £44,950.
Talking at Polestar’s HQ in Gothenburg, Sweden, he told me his excellent grades in 1982 won him a place on to a top engineering course, in a land where engineers are as renowned and respected as doctors and physicians.
Clear vision: Polestar boss Thomas Ingenlath with one of his firm’s designs
However, he also had a keen interest in art and architecture, so Frau Tzimas urged him to abandon engineering and instead follow his heart and his passion and to take up design. He did.
After a design degree at Germany’s Pforzheim University and an MA in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art in London, he progressed through the Volkswagen Group to top positions at Audi, Skoda (with the Yeti, Fabia and Superb to his credit).
From 2012 until 2017 he was head of design at Volvo, before becoming CEO at Polestar.
His vision has given Polestar, now spun off from Volvo, its clean lines, and green credentials.
Dressed informally but smartly in a black shirt, light chino’s and designer sneakers, the super-fit chisel-featured executive who cycles regularly to work, was speaking to me in his office at ‘The Cube’, Polestar’s chic but minimalist headquarters on the outskirts of Gothenburg.
Whether it’s the restrained and minimalist look of the cars, the purist style of the showrooms, or even the stylish design of the black letter fonts on a white background, Swedish electric car firm Polestar exudes cool.
But cool, he insists, it not something that can be designed on purpose. It has to be earned, and bestowed on you by others: ‘You don’t create a cool brand by trying to create something cool. You are never cool if you say you are cool.’
But if you set out with ‘conviction and confidence’ it’s then up to other people to decide ‘that’s a cool brand’.
From 2012 until 2017 Thomas Ingenlath, pictured with Ray, was head of design at Volvo, before becoming CEO at Polestar
Given his design background he says it’s a privilege to expand his career from designing one car at a time to creating and leading from scratch a complete brand, range of cars, and the company behind them. He said: ‘It’s a natural development.
‘I enjoy the creativity of designing something and creating something – to create a company with this line-up of products. I’m really proud that people like the brand Polestar.’
He is on the cusp of a big expansion from this year as the line-up grows from just one car – the Polestar 2 – to five as it is joined over the coming years by the Polestar 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Polestar 2, the electric performance fastback first unveiled in 2019 and launched to customers the following year, has just been updated and is produced in a shared production facility in Taizhou, China.
It is joined by the Polestar 3 SUV which made its debut at this summer’s Goodwood Festival of Speed and goes into production in the first quarter of 2024. The crossover SUV-coupe Polestar 4 will launch in phases throughout 2023 and into 2024 while Polestar 5, an electric four-door GT, and the feisty Polestar 6 electric roadster are to follow.
The firm’s first car – Polestar 1 – was a plug-in hybrid.
Having sold more than 150,000 cars in total so far (including more than 20,000 in the UK) Ingenlath says: ‘We want to establish 100,000 cars a year as the new norm.’
Eventually that will exceed 200,000 per year, but he won’t put a timescale on that: ‘Our path is not to go into mass production’, he says. ‘The cars we sell are expensive and exclusive We want to deliver that premium experience.’
Great efforts are also taken to ensure they are built in an environmentally friendly way.
Ingenlath’s vision has given Polestar, now spun off from Volvo, its clean lines, and green credentials
‘The design language is super simple. This purist design style translates into super-modern product designs.’
But it is the ‘fine-tuning’ that gives Polestar cars their character and individuality: ‘You have the ingredients, like any cook. It’s what you make out of them – that creates the personality.’
Although the Polestar name is spun-off from Volvo’s performance arm, he said: ‘Polestar had to be anything but Volvo.
‘But you have to work with passion for the car and your love for the product. It’s not about saying ‘It’s just a computer on wheels’.’
The ‘Polestar 0’ project is the company’s ambitious goal of creating a truly climate-neutral production car by 2030.
Polestar in the UK is based at Bicester in Oxfordshire. All cars are sold online-only but the company currently has boutique-like retail locations known as ‘Polestar Spaces’ in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Bicester, and Bristol, with Glasgow to follow on track to eight by the end of the year.
As I left, I spotted a simple plaque in the main entrance to ‘The Cube’ HQ which concisely sets out Polestar’s ‘guiding star’ philosophy. It says: ‘We are an electric performance brand, determined to improve the society we live in.
‘Our focus is on uncompromised design and technology.
‘Passion and emotion drive us, electricity and innovation drive our cars. Our products are excellent, efficient, and entertaining.
‘In Polestar’s future there is no room for shortcuts, excuses or compromises.’
And it ends: ‘At Polestar, the sky is the limit.’
Frau Tzimas would be proud.
- Jaguar Land Rover has launched a Schools Partnership Programme to support 40 secondary schools and their teachers in Coventry, Birmingham and Liverpool to help 40,000 students build their careers. The initiative covers areas such as electrical and software engineering, digital and data roles and autonomous technologies. JLR engineers visit schools to help teachers apply the curriculum to ‘real-world’ careers, especially science, technology engineering and maths, with projects including building mini-electric vehicles. JLR will also run careers workshops and help pupils submit job applications. This year 700 apprentices, undergraduates and graduates started their careers with the Midlands car maker. More details at www.jaguarlandrovercareers.com
Mazda e-Skyactiv MX-30 R-EV plug-in hybrid launched
Motorists in Liverpool and North Wales may have spotted Mazda’s new e-Skyactiv MX-30 R-EV plug-in hybrid during its UK launch.
The 170 horse-power MX-30 R-EV combines a 17.8KWh battery with a new 830cc single-rotor petrol engine to give an electric range of 53 miles
Priced from £31,250, the 170 horse-power MX-30 R-EV combines a 17.8KWh battery with a new 830cc single-rotor (Wankel) petrol engine to give an electric range of 53 miles.
But the Japanese firm’s engine also acts as a generator to power the EV motor longer ‘without charge anxiety’.
Would you pay £25,000 for a child’s pedal car?
Zero emissions aside, would you pay £25,000 for a child’s pedal car?
That’s the price of the new Austin A40 Continuation. It’s a model of the classic J40 pedal-car produced between 1949 and 1971. Just 49 Legacy Editions are being built by Salisbury-based Austin Pedal Cars.
The new Austin A40 Continuation is a model of the classic J40 pedal-car produced between 1949 and 1971
Based on the 1948 A40 Devon and Dorset, some 32,098 original Austin J40 pedal cars were made from 1949 by Austin Motor Company Limited at its ‘not for profit’ Austin Junior Car Factory in South Wales which employed disabled former coal miners.
They were made from scrap metal from Austin’s Longbridge factory near Birmingham, austinpedalcars.com.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.