Automobile

Polestar chairman sees more design bosses rising to CEO

Five years ago, Polestar Chairman Hakan Samuelsson boldly decided to turn a Swedish tuning specialist into a global stand-alone brand for high-performance electrified models.

Equally daring was the former Volvo Cars CEO’s decision to promote his design boss, Thomas Ingenlath, to CEO of Polestar.

His faith has been rewarded as Ingenlath took Polestar public in June in an $890 million deal, and this week he launched the brand’s second mass-market model, the Polestar 3, in front of a crowd of more than 800 media, shareholders and fans of the brand.

“It’s a very proud moment,” Samuelsson told me on the sidelines of the event.

Samuelsson was also close by when Ingenlath rang the bell officially announcing Polestar’s arrival on the Nasdaq in New York.

When asked what he saw in Ingenlath that convinced him the German executive was the right person to lead Polestar, Samuelsson said it was based on an evolution he felt loomed for the entire industry.

“If you go back 30 years maybe it was head of production who was a natural to elevate to CEO. Then it was the head of R&D or the CFO. Every decade seems to have a preferred background for the job,” he said while watching people interact with the Polestar 3 on a stage after its unveiling. “And if you look at things now, the car is such an important emotional experience for the consumer. Someone with a design background really understands this, giving that person a skill set that is crucial to lead a company in this new era.”

He predicts the trend will continue.

“We will see more heads of design leading companies. That is because people have seen what he (Ingenlath) has done,” Samuelsson said, noting that with 67,000 cars already on the road, Polestar “is not a startup anymore.”

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