Perhaps it’s the sky-gazing nature of the name that does it, or the recent complete rethink of its partnership with Volvo – a company which itself has managed to stand outside the money-driven, horsepower-crazy, German-centric melee that forms the arena for mainland Europe’s other premium manufacturers. For a business that has spent 20 years doing things with Volvos that it will probably never do again, Polestar – Gothenburg’s new ‘electric performance brand’ – certainly carries a remarkable aura of freshness and new endeavour about it.
It also helps that, for the past six months, Polestar’s fortunes have been guided by an ambitious new CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, who as Volvo’s chief of design has spent the past five years making Gothenburg’s latest models beautiful and relevant. Designers don’t always make good business managers but Ingenlath intends to be an exception.
The Polestar 1 began life as Volvo’s Concept Coupé from late 2013, a beautiful 2+2 created to demonstrate the flexibility of the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) that underpins today’s larger Volvo models. It was well-received, but it had a problem. The management knew it was never going to fly as a normal Volvo – too much cost versus too little volume. Even then, “It has taken almost two years to get where we are,” said Ingenlath, to our sister publication, Autocar UK. “When the Polestar 1 was still the Concept Coupé, it attracted lots of attention. Everyone wanted to know if we were going to build it; but it was always clear it wouldn’t work in the normal Volvo way and not just because of the business case. It also had design features that stretched Volvo too far – yet we felt its proportions ideally fitted the GT category.”
In launch guise, the Polestar 1 will have to settle for the description ‘electrified’ when it hits the market in 2019, whereas its successors will be purely battery-electric cars. It has a 600hp powertrain (a 379hp, 2.0-litre, turbocharged and supercharged, four-cylinder petrol driving the front wheels, plus a pair of 110hp electric motors on the rear axle) and there’s an under-floor traction battery big enough to give a 145km electric-only range. It is the first car to make use of Ohlins’ continuously controlled electronic suspension in production and is advanced in most areas – which is just as well since Ingenlath’s business plan calls for hand-manufacture of just 500 units a year, priced at more than €150,000 a copy (over Rs 1.17 crore at current exchange rates).
“Polestar 1 is very much a halo product,” says Ingenlath. “We’re going to need those for the future, just as we’ll need lower-priced models to bring flair and feeling to a much broader audience.”
There is no word on if and when the new Polestar brand will come to India.
Polestar 1 production limited to 500 units a year
Polestar sedan and SUV in the works
Polestar 1 coupe unveiled with a hybrid powertrain