Volvo’s Polestar opens China factory to export to Europe, US

BEIJING (AP) — Amid rising trade tension, Volvo’s electric brand, Polestar, is going ahead with plans to export its first Chinese-made model to the United States (US) next year, the automaker’s CEO said yesterday.

Polestar opened a factory yesterday in the western city of Chengdu to produce the Polestar 1, a two-door, gasoline-electric hybrid coupe with a carbon-fibre body.

European sales of the Polestar 1 start this year, priced at about EUR150,000 (USD165,000), said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. He said US sales are due to start early next year.

Volvo Cars has been owned by Chinese automaker Geely Holding since 2010.

US President Donald Trump is due to announce possible action on auto imports in November following an investigation into whether they harm national security. Trump said Washington would hold talks with the European Union (EU), Japan and possibly others that will likely seek to reduce imports.

China exports few vehicles to the US, but Trump has imposed punitive duties of up to 30 per cent on other Chinese imports in a fight over trade and technology. Some manufacturers are shifting production out of China to avoid Trump’s tariff hikes.

“We obviously would really like political leaders to bring equal tariffs to develop fair and free trade between all countries,” Ingenlath said.

“The task ahead for the world, and I think each politician should embrace as well, is really very much working on the environmental question,” he said. “That is where all the energy and all the discussion should be.”

Regulators in Europe, China and other markets are promoting electrics with subsidies, sales quotas and other tools.

Last year’s global sales of pure electrics and hybrids totalled 2.1 million, according to the International Energy Agency. That was equal to about 2.3 per cent of global auto sales of 86 million vehicles.

Polestar’s goal is to “bring this internal combustion market over to the side of electric mobility,” Ingenlath said by phone from Chengdu.

File photo shows Volvo’s S60 Polestar during the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. PHOTO: AP