The Electric Vehicle Council lobby group has appointed Samantha Johnson as interim CEO, following her departure as managing director of the embattled Chinese-Swedish brand Polestar’s Australian division.

Ms Johnson succeeds Electric Vehicle Council founder Behyad Jafari as the now-interim head of the lobby group after the latter spent eight years in the top job – during which time electric vehicle (EV) sales have risen to eight per cent of Australia’s new car market.

Polestar is one of just a dozen carmakers and distributors which are members of the Electric Vehicle Council, with its remaining supporters made up of energy companies, EV charger suppliers, and related businesses.

A permanent successor to Ms Johnson is yet to be named, with interim replacement Jeremy Goh thanking Polestar Australia’s former executive.

“Samantha has been instrumental to Polestar’s success in Australia since joining the brand in 2021 from Volvo Cars to oversee the initial launch phase, establish the brand’s Australian operations, and set the course for Polestar’s future success.

“We thank Samantha for her contribution and wish her all the very best for the new chapter.”

Polestar is no longer a member of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), having quit the lobby group earlier this year over its stance on the upcoming New Vehicle Efficiency Standard (NVES).

Ms Johnson’s appointment to the lobby group position comes shortly after monthly sales of EVs in Australia shrunk for the first time since late 2020 (with 6294 sales in April), but also amid Polestar’s own woes locally and overseas.

Between January and April 2024, 448 Polestar 2s were sold in Australia, down on the 670 deliveries of the EV across the same period last year.

While its new Polestar 4 SUV isn’t due in showrooms until August, earlier this month prices of the Polestar 2 were cut by up to $15,000 until June 9.

Polestar’s struggles haven’t been limited to Australia.

Last week, Polestar announced it had been notified by the Nasdaq that it has 60 days to submit a plan of compliance after failing to file both its full-year 2023 and first-quarter 2024 financial reports in a timely manner.

Its 2023 financial report was originally due to be filed at the end of February, but this deadline was extended to the end of April. Neither of these deadlines were met.

The announcement came after Polestar said in January it would retrench 450 staff, about 15 per cent of its workforce, in a bid to reduce external spending and edge closer to breaking even.

In February, former parent company Volvo offloaded a 30 per cent stake in Polestar to its own parent company, Chinese car giant Geely, which it valued at 9.5 billion Swedish krona (A$1.4 billion).

While Polestar secured US$950 million (A$1.46 billion) in funding from a syndicate of 12 global banks in late February, the investment didn’t reach the US$1.3 billion (A$2bn) in external funding Polestar previously said it would need to break even in 2025.

Extracted in full from: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8642770/polestar-australia-boss-steps-down-to-lead-ev-lobby-group-as-brands-sales-slide/

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