Polestar CEO slams petrol-powered hypocrisy in the automotive industry
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The global boss of Volvo’s Polestar electric spin-off has hit out at hypocrisy within the car industry as manufacturers move toward greener cars while still catering to petrol heads.
Thomas Ingenlath, a former Volvo designer turned Polestar chief executive, says “times have changed”, and that buying V8-powered cars is no longer socially acceptable.
“Standing in the city traffic and having your loud V8 burbling, I don’t think that’s a very positive image anymore,” he said.
“I think already times have changed … there is a shift in perception in society already happening.”
Mr Ingenlath said that although the car industry was shifting toward sustainability, other industries such as fashion have changed “much quicker” and that “something like a fur coat has been unacceptable on a catwalk” for some time.
Fredrika Klarén, head of sustainability at Polestar, said “there haven’t been any conflicting messages in the fashion industry”, unlike the car game.
“[In] the automotive industry, the consumers have been privy to very conflicting messages, and a narrative that has been confusing,” she said.
“So we are really trying like the fashion industry … sending a clear message that this is the way to go.”
While companies such as Polestar and Tesla only sell electric cars, other brands such as VW or Mercedes-Benz continue to offer a wide range of vehicles.
Mercedes is well-established in the electric space, with battery-powered SUVs in the EQA and EQC already on sale alongside plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel models.
Though a new EQS electric sedan is just around the corner in New Zealand, the latest S-Class is still available with a variety of combustion engines, including V8s.
The same could be said for luxury rivals Audi, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW that sell boosted V8 machines alongside electric alternatives.
Mr Ingenlath said shifting perceptions in the industry were evident in that Mercedes’ latest flagship, the S-Class limousine, has had very little cut-through compared with previous generations.
Instead, the automotive community has paid more attention to electric models such as the Tesla Model 3 or Porsche Taycan.
“People are not talking about the great new S Class,” he said.
“It’s a great new sign of the new era.”
Ms Klarén told Australian reporters that “within the next five years we are going to see big behavioural changes” surrounding the adoption of electric cars.
“That will be due to the fact that you will have to set clear targets on when to not sell fossil fuel anymore,” she said.
“That will need to happen during the coming years.
“Then we will get into a situation where consumers are realising that ‘if I buy an [internal combustion engine] vehicle car now I will have a hard time selling it’, that will be a really main driver for this.”