Volvo’s electric spin-off brand launches first car

Polestar 1 leads the way to a new family of performance electric cars

Car Manufacturer News

Polestar, the new performance electric car brand from Volvo, has unveiled its first new car, the Polestar 1.

Set to start production in a new factory in China in 2019, the Polestar 1 is a 600hp, 2+2 coupé that is based heavily on the design of the 2012 Volvo Concept Coupé. It will be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, with two electric motors driving the rear wheels and a Volvo 2.0-litre petrol engine driving the front wheels. Polestar plans to build no more than 500 cars per year.

Polestar claims that the car will be able to travel more than 90 miles on electric power alone, meaning that most drivers will rarely experience the petrol engine in regular use. For maximum performance, the petrol and electric motors operate together to deliver the maximum 600hp and 1,000Nm available. The Polestar 1 will be the flagship of the new range, and is expected to be the only model that will be built as a hybrid. Subsequent models are intended to be strictly electric vehicles.

The Polestar 1 will be based on the same basic platform as Volvo’s latest models, but Polestar’s engineers claim that 50% of the platform is new and bespoke to this model. It is more than half a metre shorter than the Volvo S90 saloon, and extensive use of carbon fibre has helped save a claimed 230kg of weight.

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Despite not carrying a Volvo badge, the Polestar 1 is clearly an extension of the Swedish brand’s principles and design language – both inside and out. The new Volvo S90 and V90 evolved from the same stunning 2012 Volvo concept that inspired the new Polestar 1, and the shared visual identity is evident – even down to the “Thor’s Hammer” headlights and C-shaped rear lights. Most of the dashboard looks like it has been lifted straight out of the Volvo 90-series models, which is definitely no bad thing as those cars have been highly praised for their interiors.

Subscription service only, no cash buyers please

Polestar will also embrace Volvo’s new subscription service for its vehicles rather than traditional car ownership. The Polestar 1 and subsequent models will only be offered on an “all-inclusive” two- or three-year plan. This new premium leasing concept will also allow customers access to other Volvo and Polestar models on a short-term basis as part of the overall monthly payment. The vehicle can also be shared via a smartphone app, replacing a traditional car key.

The new customer concept will include collection and delivery for servicing, and ultimately is likely to bypass the normal new car dealership model altogether. Polestar does intend to build a small number of retail facilities in prominent locations, but most customers are likely to arrange test drives and order vehicles online, never setting foot in a dealership.

First of a new family of Polestar vehicles

The Polestar 1 will be followed in short order by two more models, to be named as (wait for it…) the Polestar 2 and Polestar 3. Unlike the flagship GT, these will be purely electric vehicles running off battery packs and will also be more practical than the two-door model.

The Polestar 2 will be a mid-sized car, aimed directly at the new Tesla Model 3. It is expected to launch in late 2019. It will be the entry-level model in the Polestar family, and will be followed to market by the Polestar 3, a larger “SUV-style” electric vehicle. Presumably, this will be something larger than a Volvo XC60 but smaller than an XC90. A launch date hasn’t been revealed, but is likely to be 2020 or 2021.

All Polestar models are likely to be built in China. A new factory is being constructed in Chengdu, and is due to open in mid-2018 in time to start pre-production of the first Polestar 1 vehicles.

It is not yet known what will become of the Polestar-branded Volvo performance models. Currently, the Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar models are offered, and a number of Polestar performance upgrades are available across the Volvo range.

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Stuart Masson

Stuart is the Editor of The Car Expert, which he founded in 2011, and our new sister site The Van Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the car industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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