Working with one other model means there can be some company arm twisting, says Callum. The problem is to maintain any similarities hidden the place doable: “To be fair to the design teams, they’ll be told to use a lot of similar components, like the touchscreens. But, for example, you should never use the same switches on the outer surface. We argued for this between Jaguar and Land Rover. Even though the mechanics of the switch might be common underneath, which is fine, the tactility and the feel of them must be different. These are areas that have to be protected.”
What’s necessary is how every model presents its philosophy. After all, platform and powertrain sharing is nothing new. A VW Golf R shares a platform and engine with an Audi S3, with their design and ethos being the huge differentiators. The former’s market positioning isn’t fairly as premium as the latter, regardless of similarities underneath the pores and skin. Looking a bit of nearer to the mark, a VW iD3 shares its platform and tech (all the way down to its woeful infotainment system) with the Cupra Born—but the two manufacturers’ photos couldn’t be additional aside. One presents itself as wise, whereas the different is sporting. To go additional, Kia’s EV6, the Genesis GV60, and Hyundai’s Ionic 5 all share a platform, tough dimensions, and powertrains, but promise and ship completely different experiences.
“Polestar is interesting because it’s a very similar product to Volvo,” Harrow says. “I thought when the brand started they’d be producing significantly different products. But with the economies of scale and the ability to share platforms, the inevitable happens, and they start doing very similar vehicles.”
“What they’re trying to do is elevate Polestar slightly above Volvo, so it’s closer to a premium brand,” Harrow says. “But the challenge for all these companies is, how do you create a new premium when all the products are the same? Materials are becoming less important. Digital enhancements are much more important in a brand now. So we’re in a different territory.”
Which brings us again to the EX90’s principal celebration piece, its outstanding, seen lidar sensor. Considering what Volvo’s about, this isn’t a shock to Callum: “That’s Volvo’s attribute. They’re clearly not compromising the safety. If it means putting a funny box on the roof to do it, they’ll do it.”
Similarities are sure to occur as each Volvo and Polestar race to be the most sustainable, the cleanest, or the greenest. But for Callum it’s right here the place issues get muddied: “The two brands are in the same space. One was created to be an electric version of the other one, but now they’re both electric. To be honest, I think they’re going to have quite a challenge. Polestar has to focus, perhaps, on the more joyful, sporty side of life rather than the practical, family-oriented side of life.”
Harrow agrees and cites the lately introduced Polestar 6 as a primary step in that path. “Polestar has got a pretty different idea of what the brand might become,” he says. “And as things progress, it might start to pull away from Volvo. But I suspect at the moment, because they need to make it profitable, the inevitability is they’re sharing a lot of products and product sectors.”