Ahead of the Geneva auto show, Volvo’s Polestar electrified performance-car brand has revealed its first all-electric model and first volume-production model, the Polestar 2.
The Polestar could prove to be the strongest alternative yet to the Tesla Model 3, with pricing, range, performance, and even the way that you buy it all comparable to the California automaker’s volume model.
Described as “a premium five-door fastback,” the Polestar 2 has a bit more tall-crossover influence than the Model 3 and appears to land more in Model Y territory. It’s a surprisingly direct (albeit slightly more rounded) translation from Volvo’s Concept 40.2, from May 2016. It rides on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA2) that underpins the 40-Series cars and crossovers—including the XC40—and is to be shared with the Chinese parent company Geely.
With two electric motors producing a combined 408 horsepower (300 kw) and 487 pound-feet of torque, it can launch to 62 mph (or 60 mph) in less than five seconds. Polestar is targeting 275 miles of EPA-rated range.
The 78-kwh battery pack has 27 modules, and it’s integrated into the floor, which helps keep the chassis rigid and hushes the cabin from road noise.
Few charging details were offered in an initial release on the model, but we would anticipate a rate of 100 kw to 150 kw via the CCS Combo interface. The brand said that it’s implementing a connected solution that spans mobile devices and the in-car interface, using various strategic collaborations to make sure it’s hassle-free.
The Polestar 2 has a big, floating, portrait-layout touch screen inside, complementing what otherwise bears some resemblance to Volvo interfaces. The 11-inch screen is different than the one in Volvos and appears to absorb even more of the operations that might be left to hard buttons in other vehicles. The infotainment system itself is the first in the world to be powered by Android, with natural voice control and embedded Google services including Google Assistant, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store.
Like the Tesla Model 3, the car uses your phone as a key, but Polestar supplements the conveniences available through its connected app’s pick-up and delivery services. Polestar says that it can “predetermine the driver’s next move” so you can get in and go quickly.
Otherwise the Polestar 2 is pitched toward those who like to drive. An available Performance Pack subs in Öhlins dampers, Brembo brakes, and 20-inch forged wheels, There’s no mention of any alternative to Tesla’s Autopilot or other driver-assistance systems.
Gold trim for the seat belts, brake calipers and valve-stem caps sets a different tone, and most global versions of the Polestar 2 will come with new Pixel LED headlamps with proximity lighting. Cars for the U.S. and Canada will have standard LEDs. The interior of the Polestar 2 comes standard in vegan form, with what head of design Maximilian Missoni describes as “progressive textiles that will appeal to the forward-thinking audience who will subscribe to Polestar 2.”
In the U.S., the Polestar will cost $63,000 for the first year’s Launch Edition of the model, which will be eligible for the full $7,500 federal plug-in tax credit. After that we estimate the base price to be in the range of $43k to $45k, based on a starting price of about $45,400 (39,900 euros) in Europe. It’s also expected to be offered as part of a subscription service, but don’t expect details for that to be released for a little while yet.
Getting a Polestar looks more like buying a Tesla than a Volvo, because it doesn’t mean going to the dealership to choose from dealer stock, or involve time waiting for a manager to close the deal. Polestar is being run as a separate brand, with standalone showrooms called Polestar Spaces, the actual order process only taking place online (like Tesla), and a different customer experience that utilizes Volvo’s existing dealership, service, and logistics network but with a focused, concierge approach.
Artist’s impression of the Polestar plant under construction in Chengdu, China
The Polestar will be built in China beginning in 2020 and offered in China, the U.S., Canada, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. It’s one of two fully electric vehicles on the way to the U.S. from Volvo over the next couple of years. After the Polestar 2, an all-electric version of the XC40 will arrive.