Aside from having cutting edge design and technology, the Chinese-owned brands are also flush with cash.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk likes to publicly taunt mainstream automakers whenever he can. For example, last summer he demonstrated to Tesla employees the Model 3's safety compared to the Volvo S60 with side-impact crash test results. The Volvo's door was caved in while the Tesla's hardly moved. The employees cheered and Musk basked in the glory. But Volvo may be the one automaker Musk really needs to pay attention to. Automotive News has pointed out several facts to prove that Volvo could, sooner rather than later, upstage Tesla.
For example, there's the new standalone Polestar performance brand and its EV focus. The gorgeous Polestar 1 coupe, for example, recently debuted in China. Tesla is also focusing on the Chinese market, but here's where Volvo is already ahead: its Geely parent company. Geely, of course, is Chinese and it has a lot of money. Volvo and Polestar, unlike Tesla, don't have to worry about raising cash with bombastic debuts in order to impress shareholders. Geely is simply giving them a free hand to operate, something Volvo knows how to do given its 90 years in business. Like Volvo, Polestar firmly understands the importance of design, and just one look at the Polestar 1 is convincing enough.
Yes, the Polestar 1 may be a hybrid performance coupe, but the Polestar 2 all-electric sedan will debut in late 2019. The Polestar 3 EV SUV is also in the works. So now think about what makes Tesla so successful. Three things ought to come to mind: design, cool technology, and an outspoken CEO. Volvo and Polestar have the first two along with its reputation for safety. Its CEOs may not be famous like Musk, but they understand the car business. "We want to go all-in, to where it's happening, to where it's cooking," said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. "We decided to build an electric car that will be joining the competition around the Tesla Model 3, bringing an exciting, appealing midsize battery vehicle to the market."
For its part, Volvo has an $11 billion investment from Geely, and it's been using the money wisely with fresh new product packed with technology and great design. Now Polestar will be stepping up to the plate, aiming for non-traditional buyers who may typically opt for Volvo. Polestar's hopeful future customers are also Tesla's: trend setters who want performance. Even the way in which Polestar vehicles will be sold is similar to Tesla, an online-only system. Also, Volvo and Polestar can legally sell cars in all 50 US states, an issue Tesla still hasn't resolved. That dealer distribution network, also in China, combined with Chinese money and a drive to succeed, could make Volvo and Polestar the biggest treats to Tesla to date.