Over the past year, Volvo has been setting up Polestar spaces globally to showcase the new brand with a new car shopping experience. The first “Polestar Space” will open in Oslo, Norway in 2019. This is a similar trend as other car shopping experiences like Carvana and Tesla try to innovate the age-old car lot experience.
According to Thomas Ingenlath, the CEO of Polestar, the plan is to “redefine the vehicle ownership experience and the relationship customers have with their car manufacturer.” However, this is just a recent innovation in a long string of “new” ideas coming from Volvo with an electric hybrid that also combines with high performance.
Currently, Volvo has released a few different models of the Polestar as a hybrid, sedan, and wagon, but recent news celebrated the Polestar Hybrid Coupe sports car that will start at $155,000. The difference with this vehicle will be that it has a subscription model with two-year and three-year options.
Is Polestar the future of hybrid cars and modern car buying experiences? Let’s take a look.
Quick Summary on Polestar 1: the New Electric Performance Brand from Volvo
While it may be under the Volvo brand, Polestar 1 is a completely new look and feel. The whole brand is going digital in an entirely new way that will incorporate changing every facet of the car buying experience. However, it doesn’t stop there. Volvo wants to make it so that drivers never have to interface with service departments or dealerships. Instead, you’ll pay a subscription payment each month and own your vehicle outright.
However, there are some things about Polestar that aren’t entirely new. For one thing, the sports car model dates back to 1996 when volvo worked with TWR to join the Swedish Touring Car Championship races. Back then, it was called the Volvo 850 Super Touring.
However, now it’s the Polestar 1, and it’s already in pre-production with a waiting list of 7,000 hopeful drivers who expect their car to be delivered some time in 2019.
Here is a breakdown of Polestar’s transformation:
Early forms of the Polestar were first released in 2009 with the first racing car built in the form of C30 S2000.
Polestar was originally a separate brand but it joined up with Volvo in 2009 as well. It would become the performance brand for Volvo.
In 2015, Volvo bought Polestar.
In 2017, Volvo’s CEO spoke about a new brand that would rival other electric performance car brands like Tesla. This evolved into the Polestar 1, which would be its own brand.
Currently, it is a plug-in hybrid, but there are plans for it to become a BEV or battery electric vehicle. However, it’s not a pure EV, since it still has a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged engine that powers the front wheels.
The supercharged engine provides more torque and horsepower. In fact, it provides up to 600-horsepower, making it the fastest and most powerful electric hybrid prototype so far.
The engine has been totally re-engineered. The motor system combines a pair of motors on the rear wheels, as well as a motor for the front wheels.
The current range will be 150 miles, but there are plans to extend this maximum range.
Overall, the Polestar 1 is the most powerful and fast vehicle to ever come out of Volvo. The team has already confirmed that the prototype can go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in less than four seconds. This is in part due to other innovations in design and materials. For one, engineers are using carbon fiber to create a lightweight body.
Why Did Volvo Start Polestar?
A few years ago, Volvo unveiled plans to change up the brand towards a more technologically advanced vehicle. Not only would this include a new line of performance, futuristic cars, but it also meant changing the car buying process. Many in the industry likened the new brand to Tesla, which has had some moderate success as a performance electric hybrid brand with an online car buying experience.
Although Volvo started the brand, Polestar will operate largely on its own with its own headquarters in Sweden and separate car buying experiences called “Polestar Spaces.” The company’s first car, Polestar 1, starts production in mid-2019, but the prototype has already been unveiled to much praise for the style and performance.
How does Polestar plan on changing things around?
The CEO recently talked about the relationship between car shoppers and manufacturers:
“We also know that many people want to physically see a car before ordering, so our customers will be able to meet the brand in a franchised Polestar Space. In a town center location, they’ll interact with non-commissioned product experiences who are focused on enhancing their brand experience and giving them the information they want and need.”
Based on this, Polestar will likely be a high-end car shopping experience where you can test drive and have the car delivered right to your door. In an effort to make it even more innovative, car buyers can go online to “build their own Polestar” and have it delivered to their home as well.
High Performance Features of Polestar 1
So what is the flagship vehicle for Polestar? Currently, there are two models of the Polestar already available, including a wagon and sedan. However, these are not the future of the brand. The electric hybrid coupe called Polestar 1 is the innovative product that has been compared to Tesla in terms of performance. You can even get on a waiting list for $2,500.
Polestar 1 is the model for the future of car technology . The design, development, and engineering of the vehicle is all about building a car that save on fuels yet still be stylish and powerful. Towards that end, Polestar will have a fully electric drivetrain and a coupe style body that will enhance its performance.
Volvo has said that Polestar 1 will be limited in its manufacturing. Only 500 cars will be available per year to subscribers. Customers will be able to purchase vehicles with a single, all-in-one payment that can be changed with add-on services if they wish.
The new Polestar will feature a double electric motor that uses both rear wheels hinged by planetary gears. The new electric coupe is said to produce 218 horsepower and has an integrated starter generator.
Key Features of the Polestar 1
There are a few different modes that drivers will be able to engage with the latest vehicle as well, including Pure mode, which is a rear wheel drive system that offers 150km in range. Volvo commented that this distance will make it so that drivers will only ever use the car in electric mode, as they won’t have to worry about stopping to re-charge their vehicles.
One of the main things that separates Polestar 1 from Tesla and other hybrids is the increased range. The double electric rear motor system will join with the Volvo Drive-E 2-liter four-cylinder petrol engine, that will power the front wheels of the vehicle. In this “Power Mode,” drivers can get up to 600-horsepower and 1,000 Nm torque.
Another feature is the Progressive Performance system. The engineering team has fitted Öhlin’s suspension to this new performance coupe, including a top-notch chassis, and the all new Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension from Öhlins as well. The new system includes a shock absorber that has an electronic valve, which monitors the driver’s directives and road conditions, allowing for a reaction to changes with milliseconds. This is true performance technology that goes beyond cameras and sensors.
With on-demand suspension and drivetrain transitions, drivers still have full control to change these settings within the diagnostic and settings, including tailoring the chassis damping and customizing the ride quality on the fly.
The Polestar 1 will also have a new braking process that provides the driver with more security in any conditions. Akebono is behind the new brakes, offering a 6-piston brake calliper and 400-millimeter disc to ensure the ultimate stopping power.
There are a few other innovative technologies coming out with the Polestar 1. This includes torque vectoring for the first time, which allows for separate power for each of the rear motors that will take cars smoothly around corners. Other vehicles typically use a traction control system that stops on the inner rear wheel, which means slowing down considerably around turns.
The majority of the engineering team used carbon fiber to make the parts of the Polestar 1. It went through recent crash tests with flying colors, as it is a lightweight material that reduces the body weight of the vehicle while also lowering the center of gravity. It provides better handling, performance, and reliability while on the road.
What’s Next for Polestar?
Currently, you can find two models of Polestar already available. This includes the brand under Volvo, which does not yet have the Polestar 1 listed. You can find the SUV, wagon, and sedan versions already for sale online at Volvo.com. Currently, you can find these trims online and at Volvo dealerships:
V60 Polestar wagon
The sports coupe with electric performance and all new suspension system won’t be available until 2019, and car buyers will have to follow the new buying process for the vehicle. You can sign up and pay a deposit to get in line for the Polestar 1, which will start manufacturing in 2019 with first delivery in late 2019 to early 2020.
All of the future Polestar vehicles will have a fully electric drivetrain. The first battery electric vehicle will be developed by the Volvo Car Group. Polestar 2 and 3 will soon follow. Right now, Polestar 2 is still with the engineers with plans to start production as soon as 2019.
Polestar 3 is the new electric performance SUV that will also be a battery electric vehicle.
In comparison to Tesla, Volvo has to do some work on the brand. Currently, it’s unclear whether Polestar is very different from their electric models. Besides the sports coupe, it’s easy to see where loyal customers would also be confused by the new buying process as well. Subscription models for vehicles haven’t proved to be the most successful if you look at Tesla’s record.
In addition, Volvo will have to ensure that it sticks to the timelines offered to waitlisted shoppers who have paid their deposits on their promised vehicles. This was a major issue for Tesla that pushed back the production of the latest models for months and then years. There are still many waiting to receive their Teslas after paying a deposit in 2016.
Build Your Own Polestar
Volvo is trying to do something completely different as it goes to market with this new vehicle. The car buying process plans to remove all of the hassle out of the experience and allow the customer to fully engage with the vehicle. This is akin to the spark of new online car shopping and delivery services, such as Carvana.
However, the cornerstone of this new strategy is a monthly subscription payment. This is an all-inclusive payment that requires no deposit to purchase the vehicle. It is a flat monthly installment that prevents the cost of depreciation, according to the CEO. Insurance and maintenance will also be offered as part of the new subscription.
The payment includes a pickup and delivery service that allows Polestar to contact the customer for scheduled maintenance. A car rental will be provided to the customer as well as other concierge services.
This new approach tries to connect the customer directly to their vehicle without so much interference from other parties, such as car salesmen, insurance agents, and service centers. If it works, it will be the first of its kind to truly provide this type of experience. However, the starting price for this vehicle is at $155,000, so it should be more convenient than competitors.
However, other services will be offered to drivers to enhance their experience with the Polestar 1. One example given is tailoring concierge services to their trips. If a driver is going on a camping trip and needs a roof box, a Polestar service agent will supply and fit the vehicle with the roof box, then removing the roof box once returned from the trip. There may be a slight fee change for that monthly payment.
Other Tech Advances in Polestar 1
There have been a lot of crossover electric hybrids coming to market, but Polestar seems to be the first that is truly thinking about how drivers need safer technology and convenience at the same time. This is all due to reliance on smartphones and compatibility with today’s driving experiences, such as infotainment systems that fully integrate with apps.
However, Polestar is taking this a step further. You will eventually be able to use your smartphone as a key to unlock your vehicle, as well as access important services and updates about your vehicle. You can also pass the key to the concierge or service team, as well as drivers who you specify in the app.
Polstar drivers will be able to order every type of service online for their vehicles. These services are covered by the subscription, but that also means that your car payment can go up significantly if you have a service that isn’t already included in your plan. It’s unclear what exact services will be included in the subscription, as well as what “downloadable” content will become available.
Security of Carbon Fiber with Polestar 1
The latest news from Polestar reveals that the engineers are using carbon fiber, and they have just completed a successful crash test. The development of the Polestar 1 is dependent on the strength of this material as it will be used for the reinforced body in real crash situations.
Most cars are made with a steel body. This allows for the car to bend into crumpled zones that reduce the crash energy. However, carbon fiber works differently by expelling the energy through cracking and shattering. It’s unclear how secure the vehicle is yet, as it is only in development. These first tests have shown that the car is able to absorb th crash and mitigate energy simply with a few carbon fiber panels built into the body.
Refined Engineering at Polestar Headquarters
One of the things that truly separates this vehicle from other electric performance vehicles is the engineering team. Polestar has hired the best in the business to design, engineer, and manufacture this incredible sports car. There have been multiple collaborations so far, such as Akebono and Ohlins. This has led to gold aluminum calipers that are truly glorious against the backdrop of the sleek, monochrome body style.
However, it also combines the efforts of test driver Joakim Rydholm, who has been helping the team make changes to valves and motor systems. The bearded Swedish driver used to be a former engineer under Volvo and is now the lead for Polestar, tasked with chassis development and perfecting the Polestar 1 for future development.
You can see how much Joakim enjoys driving the vehicle, as he took the vehicle to Goodwood this past year. The acceleration was immediate, jumping with 600 horsepower and 739 lb ft of torque. The new brakes and suspension helped the Polestar 1 to easily take turns, and of course, Joakim handled the car expertly.
Impressive So Far, but Do Audiences Want the Polestar 1?
While watching Joakim drive the Polestar 1 prototype at Goodwood will make you want to feel it for yourself, there are a lot of changes and innovations that Volvo is taking on with this latest vehicle.
Drivers will be able to change their drivetrain on the fly, but they’ll also be paying for subscription services. The brand is also all new and will need to attract high net worth individuals with a starting price of $155,000. That’s a lot to consider as its closest competitor Tesla starts around $90k. Polestar 1 is banking on the fact that it will be a completely new experience for drivers that they will come to expect from other manufacturers in the future. Volvo is just the first one to try it.
Time will also tell if Volvo can match production with the magic of their marketing campaign. Already, the number of people signing up is more than the release schematics, which state that just 500 cars will be released per year. Currently, there is a waiting list of 7,000 strong hoping to be one of those 500. It seems to be a little bit of a contrived marketing scheme to limit the cars to such a limited release.
Want to get into a Polestar 1 or just see the latest features available? It’s all online. You can start designing your Polestar 1 at Polestar.com.