VOLVO Australia is keen to build on the success of the S60 Polestar sports sedan by helping the Swedish brand develop more high performance models, CEO Kevin McCann says.
Speaking recently at the launch of the Volvo XC90 SUV, McCann told Wheels that Australia’s contribution to shaping hot Volvos was likely to continue, now that Volvo had completed the purchase of Swedish high-performance brand Polestar.
“I think because of the acceptance of the brand [in Australia] and the willingness to try different aspects of it … I believe Australia will play a role,” said McCann, appointed to head Volvo Australia less than a year ago.
“It’s all new news at the moment, so there’s nothing formal, but I think there’s a lot of information down here that can be effectively used, and it will give us some benefit from being here on the ground floor as well.”
Australia was the first country in the world – even before Sweden – to get the Volvo S60 Polestar, which has subsequently launched in other markets including the UK and North America.
McCann said this may not have happened if the groundwork put in by Volvo Australia and Polestar, and the feedback from Australian owners, had not been so positive.
The S60 Polestar also paved the way for Volvo Australia to join V8 Supercars to help promote the go-fast models locally.
Volvo’s recent purchase of the road-car and tuning side of Polestar’s business was brought on by the success of the S60 and V60 Polestar models.
“Polestar is a family business owned by one family headed by Christian Dahl, and I think the development timelines and capital requirements have become quite large,” said McCann.
“When you’re investing $100million, if you can see the return coming in six or twelve months’ time … you’d probably invest it. If you were saying, well, the return’s not going to come for five years (which is the automotive business), an individual putting his family’s wealth at risk, is going to say no, I’m not interested.”
McCann rejected the notion that Volvo’s participation in V8 Supercars and motorsport in general contradicted the brand’s core safety message.
“Racing drivers are incredibly safety conscious,” he said.
“If you look at the number of racing drivers that go on to run driver safety training schools and so on, their protection of themselves and the crowds that they’re racing in front of is paramount.
“Motorsport for us is to expand the footprint of the brand beyond safety, and I don’t think we can ever lose safety … but it also stands for other things: being fun, to be associated with, and good design and engineering.
“We don’t have a concern. When I go to a motorsport event, the safety consciousness is so obvious; it’s all about safety.”