Swedish electric car maker Polestar will open a new research facility in the Midlands, eventually employing more than 800 people, in a boost for the UK as the Volvo-backed battery vehicle group prepares to list in the US.
The luxury car maker’s existing Midlands facility at Nuneaton, which employs 280 staff, has already developed the production platform for the Polestar 5, the brand’s first model that uses its own proprietary technology, the company announced on Tuesday.
The Gothenburg-based group chose the UK for its new centre because of its mix of Formula 1 engineers and technicians from high performance brands such as Aston Martin, Lotus and McLaren, the company’s UK chief executive Jonathan Goodman said.
The investment, expected to be in the high tens of millions, is a further boon for the UK, which like other nations has been trying to attract electric groups and investment as it prepares to switch to battery-powered cars over the next two decades.
Rimac Automobili, the Croatian hypercar developer backed by Porsche, last year opened a UK research centre.
“Our UK R&D team is one of Polestar’s greatest assets,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar chief executive. “Their mix of engineering and technological expertise enables us to develop advanced, lightweight sports car technology with a creative mindset and a spirit that embraces innovative engineering.”
Polestar hopes to tap the public markets that have valued other electric-only start-ups such as Rivian and Lucid at enormous valuations.
The group, the only purely electric company to be spun out of an existing carmaker to date, hopes to float in the first half of the year through US blank-cheque company Gores Guggenheim in a transaction that valued the company at $20bn when it was announced last September.
That figure would have made Polestar, founded four years ago by Volvo Cars and its Chinese owner Geely, one of the most valuable electric vehicle companies to list through a special purpose acquisition company, or Spac.
Although shares in electric-only manufacturers have dropped sharply since last year, Rivian and Lucid are still valued more highly than established rivals such as Renault.
Volvo Cars floated last year, but struggled to reach the initial value set by Geely, despite the brand’s pledge to go fully electric by the end of the decade.
The Polestar 5, a four-door sports car aiming to take on Porsche’s electric Taycan, will be based on a new bonded aluminium frame that allows it to sit closer to the ground than current models.
Polestar’s power-train for the 5, which includes the batteries and electric motors, is developed at its research site in Gothenburg.
The rest of the development including the chassis of the car and its manufacturing system, which is integral to vehicle efficiency, will come from the UK, the company said.
In the future, the two locations will have about equal numbers of staff.
The vehicle is built around aerodynamics, with the current proposal to include no rear window, relying on a rear-view camera instead. Polestar’s current model, the Polestar 2, is a sports saloon, while it plans two sport utility vehicles built on Volvo systems over the next two years.
Last year Polestar delivered 29,000 models in its first full year of production.