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Polestar won't limit top speeds like Volvo

Premium electrified performance brand's cars will race on to higher velocities.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

Volvo made waves on Monday when it announced that beginning next year, it will start phasing in a 112-mile-per-hour top speed on all of its vehicles. At the time, the Swedish automaker's new electrified premium brand, Polestar, remained quiet on whether it plans to adopt the same policy. It will not.

On Tuesday here at the Geneva Motor Show, I sat down with Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath after the debut of his company's new Polestar 2 EV. He revealed, "We obviously will not do that, and that is a nice brand differentiator [from Volvo]." He continued, "we have not the wish within Polestar to actually dictate to somewhat speed he or she should drive."

According to Ingenlath, not only would limiting the v-max of its vehicles to such a low speed be contrary to the brand's high-performance image, he thinks the discussion itself is almost beside the point with electric cars.

"Naturally, our questions are anyway in a different realm, because with electric cars, you do not discuss high speed anymore that much. That is much more an element of the combustion-engine world. Even with Tesla, [you] have to look up the top speed. For us, it would be silly to announce it [limiting top speed], because really, it's not a question that's relevant to us as a brand."

Because of the way electric motors deliver power, with maximum torque output coming from zero rpm, the most sensational aspect of electric vehicle performance tends to be standing-start acceleration, like 0-to-60-mph tests. Top speeds aren't discussed as often, in part because most EVs have single-speed transmissions that result in comparatively unspectacular velocities.

Volvo has built its reputation on safety, and the company is doubling-down on that with the top-speed announcement, as well as revealing that it plans to research automatically limiting top speed in areas around schools and hospitals. While Polestar models will share much of Volvo's safety knowhow, it will evidently not seek to wear that reputation on its sleeve. According to Ingenlath, Polestar is "a bit more expressive, a bit more daring, it's a bit more, indeed, exclusive. Some people will like it, some people will not, and it is more driver-oriented."

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