Design and Technology
Exclusive Interview: Thomas Ingenlath
As CEO of Polestar, Thomas Ingenlath is leading a technological revolution. He talks to PURSUIT about why bold innovation is at the heart of creating the car company – and society – of the future.
Polestar is quietly revolutionising the car industry. Originally founded in 1996 as Flash Engineering, Polestar was acquired by Volvo in 2015 and two years later was revealed as a new standalone electric performance brand. In just six years the Swedish brand’s subtle styling, green technology and exceptional performance has gained cult status, with new models selling out before production even begins.
By 2026, Polestar’s range will include an SUV, crossover, luxury fastback, two-seater roadster, and a hydrofoil in collaboration with Candela, in addition to its multi-award-winning Polestar 2 saloon. If this weren’t enough, the company is currently developing the Polestar 0 – the world’s first car with no associated emissions, slated for launch by 2030.
Brave decisions include committing to creating the Polestar 0. “The reduction of CO2 is not just a Polestar task, it is really the task ahead of society for the next decade,” says Ingenlath. The project calls on likeminded companies to join Polestar in their research to develop the world’s first car with no associated emissions. “We should not be scared because we don’t yet know the answer – if you don’t start working on it today you will never know.” While Polestar 0 is described as the company’s “moonshot” project, the ground-breaking research the company is doing is having a positive effect elsewhere. “An important side effect is that year after year, the Polestar 2 has reduced its CO2 footprint, down to three tonnes within three years,” says Ingenlath. “As a CEO I have to defend this goal of reaching zero emissions; yes, we still have to grow as a company, but we should not forget about the long term direction.”
Surprisingly, given Polestar’s role as an entirely electric company, Ingenlath does not want Polestar to be defined by what it is best known for: electric vehicles. “Our brand is actually not centred around being electric; it is centred around design, innovation, and sustainability – these are the three core pillars of the brand,” he says.
While Ingenlath acknowledges the vital importance of electrification for the future of the automotive industry, Polestar will be ready for whatever means of propulsion the future holds. “In a hundred years I don’t think people will talk about Polestar being electric anymore. What is lasting is not the technology but what we created as a brand – the brand value is really the essence of the value creation.”
Our brand is not centred around being electric; it is centred around design, innovation, and sustainability.
For Ingenlath, Polestar’s innovation is centred around the experience. “Every time you drive a Polestar it feels special and that comes through the senses,” he says. “Our cars are definitely not designed for the average crowd; they are rather something for the connoisseur. They do not shout “look at me!” They are a beautiful piece of design, tuned with great expertise like an instrument giving you the pleasure of knowing what a marvellous product you have. That is the experience we want to create.”
By producing beautiful, desirable, sustainable products for the luxury market, Ingenlath hopes to cause a ripple effect in wider society. “It is super important that we use our talent, our art, our craft to create these amazing products that really become icons and make people become naturally interested in buying, owning and loving sustainable products.”
Of all the cutting-edge technology that Polestar is pioneering, it is something comparatively simple of which Ingenlath is most proud: making the Polestar logo to the same colour as the body of the car. “I’m proud that we resisted the reflex of doing it in chrome just because it had always been done that way,” he says. “By questioning the status quo, sometimes you find that things can be done better.”