Volvo is transforming its performance sub-brand, Polestar, into an electric vehicle manufacturer, and has outlined its plan to bring three vehicles to market early in the next decade.
Debuting in Shanghai, the first Polestar vehicle, fittingly dubbed the Polestar 1, is a grand touring coupe slated to start production in a new factory in Chengdu, China in mid-2019. Think of the 2020 Polestar 1 as an electrified resurrection of the old Volvo C70, and you won’t be far off the mark.
Thereafter, a fully electric Polestar 2 is slated to arrive, and while Volvo did not define its body style, this car is likely a sedan or sportback because the company confirms that the Polestar 3 will be the first SUV to wear the nameplate.
Calling the Polestar 1 “an electric car supported by an internal combustion engine,” Volvo leaves opaque the details surrounding how the new drivetrain will work. Will it be a plug-in hybrid? Will it work similar to the Chevrolet Volt? We’ll all just need to wait and see.
Volvo does say that it will develop 600 horsepower and approximately 735 lb.-ft. of torque, and will provide more than 90 miles of electric driving range before the traditional engine is required in order to extend total range. The Polestar 1 will feature a double electric rear axle for torque vectoring capability, as well as a continuously controlled electronic suspension.
Wrapped in carbon fiber bodywork, the Polestar 1 clearly takes design inspiration from the S90 sedan. Translated, that means it looks sensational. However, from some angles, it looks either too wide or too short in terms of length. Also, after a few glasses of wine, you might mistake it for a Ford Mustang.
Inside, a 2+2 seating arrangement faces what is now Volvo’s traditional dashboard design. The steering wheel hub wears a distinctive Polestar logo, carbon fiber replaces the wood paneling, and the instrumentation reflects the car’s new drivetrain, but otherwise this cabin is straight outta Trollhättan.
Naturally, then, Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system dominates the center of the dashboard, while a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system promises near mythical levels of sound depth and clarity. Seriously, if you’ve never experienced this system before, it is transformational. Almost worth the cost of the entire car.
Speaking of cost, what will a Polestar 1 run in terms of price? That’s difficult to discern. Polestar vehicles will be available by subscription only, with the goal of creating a hassle-free ownership experience.
You’ll order the Polestar 1 online, electing to subscribe to driving the car for two or three years. The subscription is “all-inclusive” with a single monthly payment that includes valet service for maintenance visits as well as the ability to rent alternative vehicles from within the Volvo and Polestar range as your circumstances dictate.
Separately, Polestar Spaces will take the place of traditional dealerships, allowing customers to interact with the brand and its products, much like Tesla stores do today. They will not be located within the existing network of Volvo dealerships.
Intrigued? Polestar expects to start taking “expressions of interest” from customers on Oct. 17, 2017.
The world is changing, and fast. Electrified powertrains, autonomous driving technologies, and subscription ownership models are transforming the future of personal mobility. When that future arrives, more than ever before selecting a vehicle will be about fashion above all else.
In fact, having a personal, unshared mode of transportation could be reserved for the so-called “1%,” a monthly expense deemed too extravagant for the general population, which will shuttle in autonomous, inductively charged, shared-ride vehicles called into service via smartphone app, much like Über today but without the stench of liberally applied Axe body spray emanating from behind the steering wheel.
With Polestar, Volvo is nicely positioned to attract this future cadre of wealthy clientele. Stunning designs, sumptuous cabins, and seductive sound quality will become more important than technical specifications and driving dynamics (if they haven’t already), and Volvo has clearly mastered all three.
Watch out, Elon. Polestar’s gonna getcha!