“We managed successfully in this generation not to go down the route of heavily sculpted bodywork, unlike some of our competition that have a hectic look with millions of cuts in the body panels,” says Ingenlath.
Now the three designers are working on the second generation of models and a significant question is how to evolve a styling theme whose DNA was established in the 1970s and 1980s, and then expertly nurtured into a fresh incarnation under Peter Horbury in the 1990s before Ingenlath and his team honed today’s handsome millennial look.
In the same period, Volvo’s main German competition has adopted a busy, heavily sculpted and highly detailed styling direction, matched to huge global sales success but also criticised for its overly fussy look.
“We did not enter that war of making hundreds of styling features within one panel and we definitely want to stay out of it,” says Ingenlath. “Autonomous vehicles and battery-electric powertrains are the topics that really matter.”
For Page – the Volvo brand’s chief designer since Ingenlath took on responsibility for Polestar in 2017 – the answer lies in details like the latest premium design manufacturing techniques for flush glazing to smooth the upper body and glasshouse, but also by adding a new level of safety equipment, electric powertrains, connectivity and autonomy. “There are other ways of being more modern without it having to be over-sculptured,” says Page.
Strategically, Volvo is committed to adding hybrid, plug-in and battery-electric powertrains to all future model segments, a challenge it will meet by designing one platform and body structure to house multiple different powertrains.
“Electric cars will influence the way that aesthetics go. But we strictly believe it will not be split into electric and combustion-engine looks,” says Ingenlath. “It would be crazy to split up our car lines into EV and combustion. Within Volvo, it means introducing a new electric drivetrain, and not like a parallel world.”