VOLVO Cars has appointed Nick Connor as the new chief executive of its performance division Polestar, succeeding Bjorn Sallstrom who has been acting CEO since the Swedish car-maker took full control of the high-performance unit in July last year.
A long-serving British-based executive with Volvo, Mr Connor has spent the past four years as managing director of Volvo Cars UK and is now charged with ensuring “growth and development” of the Polestar division, which the Scandinavian manufacturer wants to develop along the same lines as Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, Audi Quattro/Sport and, more recently, Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations.
“Nick brings extensive commercial experience and a proven track record of sales and network development to Polestar as we seek to develop and grow this exciting part of our business,” said Volvo Cars president and CEO Hakan Samuelsson.
It remains to be seen whether the Polestar organisation will now be restructured under Mr Connor.
Upon taking Volvo’s (100 per cent) acquisition of Polestar last year, Mr Samuelsson promised that the performance arm “will operate as a dynamic and independent enterprise under Volvo Cars’ ownership” with its own management team and control over product strategy, research and development, and sales and marketing.
He also said Polestar would continue its motorsport activity in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship alongside Cyan Racing, the new racing team set up by Christian Dahl.
“I am keen for Polestar to remain as entrepreneurial as possible,” said Mr Samuelsson said at the time.
“We want Polestar to build on its racing heritage and strengthen its brand by pushing the limits in terms of engineering and technology. The best way to achieve this was for it to work as an independent unit.”
Mr Sallstrom had been working alongside chief operating officer Niels Moller, reporting to a board of directors comprising senior Volvo executive managers.
As GoAuto has previously reported, Mr Moller announced earlier this month that Polestar was withdrawing from Australian V8 Supercar racing at the end of this season. It remains involved in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship and is also engaged in the FIA WTCC.
Polestar was founded as a motorsport team in 1996 and expanded into performance-related products in 1999, with the first fully fledged performance cars, based on Volvo’s S60 and V60, launched in 2014.
Volvo has previously said it plans to double Polestar vehicle sales to around 1500 cars per annum “in the medium term” under its ownership, expanding its operations in both production cars and accessories while remaining closely tied with motorsport programs to assist with technical development.
It recently launched new versions of its high-performance S60 and V60 using a 270kW turbocharged four-cylinder Drive-E powertrain – a pair the company said “mark the globalisation of the Polestar brand”.
Mr Connor was appointed head of Volvo Car UK in May 2012 and has worked for the Swedish brand in the UK for two decades in a variety of roles including sales director, network and ownership director, group solicitor and company secretary.
Current sales director John Wakefield has now stepped up as acting managing director.
By Terry Martin