Factory-backed Polestar V8 Supercar team to change hearts and minds: Volvo
18 June 2013
Volvo Car Australia wants the S60 sedan to be considered a genuine rival to the popular and critically acclaimed BMW 3 Series, and will use its bold move into V8 Supercars to spread the word.
The company revealed this week it would fund a pair of S60-based V8 racecars from the first round of 2014, in collaboration with its official racing partner Polestar in Sweden and Melbourne-based Garry Rogers Motorsport, previously a Holden privateer.
The team will be called Volvo Polestar Racing, and will hit the track a year after a factory-backed Nissan team and a privateer Mercedes-Benz joined the series, moving it beyond traditional rivals Holden and Ford.
The announcement comes in conjunction with the local media launch of the company’s strictly limited $109,950, 257kW, all-wheel-drive S60 Polestar performance sedan.
As reported, Polestar is using the Australian market as part of an international pilot program: it will launch 50 cars here before any other market, including Sweden, and will assess feedback before making its next move.
Polestar is not owned by Volvo, but operates as an exclusive racing partner and tuning arm with full factory support – think somewhere between HSV, which is a separate company to GM Holden but has a standalone retail presence, and Mercedes-owned AMG or BMW-owned M Division.
Volvo in Australia hopes the launch of a factory-backed racing team will, along with its toe-in-the-water road-car exercise with Polestar, change perceptions and sex up its image, particularly that of the S60.
Speaking to GoAuto shortly after the announcement of the V8 Supercars team, Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid said that since the S60 badge had less history than ‘3 Series’, ‘A4’ or ‘C-Class’, it needed new avenues to boost awareness and credibility.
“It’s all about the S60,” he said. “The medium luxury sedan segment is hotly contested; if we look at where we are in the marketplace, there’s still a really good opportunity for us.
“But you look against A4, 3 Series, C-Class, those nameplates are all their fourth or fifth generations, whereas S60 is only in its second, so we’re not as well known there.
“The idea behind the racing is to get the S60 there and get the nameplate known and recognised in the minds of the buyers ... it’s the most dynamic car we sell in our range, and it’s therefore the obvious choice from a motorsport angle.
“Come and see why we race it.
“I’d be naive to say we had no image problem, but it’s improving all the time and each year it gets better and better. Quite clearly, without being disrespectful, but certain age groups we see very positive respect for the brand, no baggage ... young buyers.
“It’s only really 50 (years old) and above where the legacy continues, but it’s changing by the day. It’ll take time and we aren’t out of the woods yet.”
Volvo is no stranger to Australian motorsport, having won to Australian Touring Car Championship in 1986, and the Bathurst 1000 in 1998 with its S40-based touring car. Former drivers include Peter Brock and Jim Richards.
In what could be construed as a pointed reference to the rival Erebus AMG Supercars team – which is not backed by Mercedes-Benz Australia – Mr Braid called Volvo Polestar “the first luxury car brand to enter a factory team in the V8 Supercars Championship”.
The expansion in the series’ ranks is as intended: the V8 Supercar Championship’s new Car of the Future architecture was designed to accommodate a wider spread of brands than the traditional local car-makers.
Three more brands lining up for V8's
18 June 2013
Skaife said the sport could only sustain a couple more entries, with the new teams chasing success in a competitive field.
BMW and Chrysler tipped to be interested in joining V8 Supercars
Mark Skaife yesterday revealed there are another three car manufacturers lining up to join the newest player on the V8 grid after the Holden chairman and Supercars' commissioner announced Volvo would to take the fight to Holden, Ford, Nissan and Mercedes next year.
On another landmark day for the sport that will ensure the category's long term viability, Volvo yesterday committed to becoming V8 Supercars' fifth manufacturer, with the Swedish giant joining Garry Rogers Motorsport for a two-car assault on the championship.
But Skaife said there could be more than two V8 Volvo S60s on the grid from 2015, with the former champion revealing he is still in talks with another three manufacturers about joining the series.
News Limited understands BMW and Chrysler are two of the interested parties.
"I can say that I am in discussion with three,'' Skaife said, "We have held talks and we will continue to, going forward. They have all said they are interested but whether or not they come and play I don't know."
"Either way, we have to make sensible decisions to gain factory-backed support for race teams currently not receiving that support. This is about the viability of our sport.''