Polestar reveals plans for market introduction
It wasn’t just new cars filling the halls at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show—there were also brand new car companies. Just one of the new names in the exhibitor list was Polestar, Volvo’s performance brand that has, since late last year, become a standalone electric vehicle company. Initial plans that have been announced for the brand include three vehicle models; a brand new production facility in Chengdu, China, that will build 500 vehicles a year; and a subscription-based ownership model for customers.
The first model in the Polestar 1, described by the company as an electric performance hybrid 2+2 GT coupe. The powertrain consists of a conventional internal combustion engine that powers the front wheels and a double electric rear-axle-drive system for the rear wheels contributing 34 kW·h of battery power. Polestar is claiming that the 1’s pure electric driving range of 150 km (93 km) is the longest of any hybrid car in the world and, combined with the international combustion engine, enables customers to cover long distances with minimal disruption.
Numbers-wise, the powertrain puts out 600 hp (447 kW) and 1000 N·m (738 lb·ft), positioning the Polestar 1 as a vehicle with genuine high-performance credentials. To reinforce this status, the 1 is the first car in the world to be fitted with Öhlins’ Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi) advanced chassis technology one of a host of technologies being debuted on the car. To reduce overall body weight, a carbon fiber shell has been used, which has the supplementary benefits of also improving torsional stiffness by 45%, as well as lowering the cars’ center of gravity. The double electric rear axle enables torque vectoring for precise acceleration at each wheel to keep the maximum road grip and maintain speed while cornering. So while the 1 may be based on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA), approximately 50% is new and bespoke, created by Polestar’s engineers.
The new car company has a fresh approach to vehicle procurement too, with a shift away from the traditional model. Cars will be ordered online and customers will be offered a two- or three-year subscription. The all-inclusive subscription will also add features such as pickup and delivery servicing and the ability to rent alternative vehicles within the Volvo and Polestar ranges—all incorporated into one monthly payment. A further departure from the norm is Polestar’s phone-as-key technology, which allows the owner to share a virtual key with a third party and enables access to other on-demand features.
While Polestar has gone down the hybrid route with the 1, Polestar 2 will be a full electric model. Set to start production in 2019, the mid-size SUV will be the first battery electric vehicle (BEV) from the Volvo Group, fighting in a more competitive market segment and therefore expecting higher volumes than the 1. A larger SUV electric vehicle, the Polestar 3, will follow the initial two vehicles, according to the company.