Polestar strikes out on its own with hybrid coupé

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Sleek GT to be Volvo-owned firm’s flagship; Polestar sales online by subscription only

Polestar has revealed its first model since becoming a standalone brand from Volvo. The Polestar 1 is a 592bhp four-seat hybrid GT coupé that will, the brand says, act as a halo model for its future range of electric performance cars, which will be sold via subscription only.

The Polestar 1, due to go into production in mid-2019, is described by company boss Thomas Ingenlath as “an electric car with support from an internal-combustion engine”. It will be the only hybrid to carry the brand’s new badge. All future Polestars, beginning with a Tesla Model 3 rival and a larger SUV-style machine (see separate story, below), will be full battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

“The Polestar 1 is a 592bhp four-seat hybrid GT coupé that will act as the brand’s halo model”

The Polestar 1 will be powered by two electric motors that drive the rear wheels, producing a combined 215bhp with the support of an integrated starter/generator. The car will have a range of around 93 miles in pure-electric, rear-wheel-drive mode. That system will be twinned with a Volvo Drive-E 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which sends around 377bhp to the front wheels. When combined in Power mode, the hybrid system can produce 737lb ft of torque.

The styling of the Polestar 1 draws heavily on the Volvo Concept Coupé, unveiled in 2012, which was the first to be penned by Ingenlath in his previous role as Volvo design chief. Although the front end retains Volvo’s grille styling, the Swedish firm’s badge has been removed and the Polestar logo subtly placed on the front of the bonnet. The coupé features distinctive, thin light strips both front and rear.

Although future Polestar models will be full BEVs, Ingenlath said the decision to make the Polestar 1 a “performance electric hybrid” was to “bridge today’s technology with the future, offering the perfect drivetrain for a grand touring coupé”.

The Polestar 1 won’t carry a Volvo badge but it is still underpinned by the Swedish firm’s technology and Polestar will serve as a ‘technology spearhead’ for its parent company.

The Polestar 1 is based on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture, although the firm says around 50% of the structure is new. The Polestar 1 is 4.5m long, making it nearly  0.5m shorter than the S90, with the wheelbase reduced by 320mm and the rear shortened by 200mm. Major body parts are made from carbonfibre, helping to cut weight by 230kg, increase torsional rigidity
by 45% and lower the centre of gravity compared with the S90.

Ingenlath said the new coupé is designed to showcase the brand’s “progressive performance” concept, which aims to balance the fast-accelerating attributes of an electric motor with strong handling and steering feel. The weight distribution has been set at 48/52 front to rear.

Polestar boss Thomas Ingenlath

The car is the first to be fitted with Ohlins’ new Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi). With this system, each shock absorber is fitted with an electronic valve that constantly monitors and adapts to driver inputs and the road surface. It is the first Ohlins system that can be adjusted by a driver from within the car.

The coupé uses Akebono-produced six-piston brake calipers with 400mm discs. It also features torque vectoring, using the double electric rear axle’s planetary gears to split the power from the electric rear motors when in corners.

A maximum of 500 Polestar 1s will be produced per year, the company said. They will be left-hand drive only due, it is believed, to the small production scale. All the cars, along with the brand’s future models, will be made at a bespoke Polestar production centre currently being built in Chengdu, China. Volvo is owned by Chinese firm Geely and a joint venture has been established between Volvo and two investment companies owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding to support future Polestar development.

The Polestar 1 will be sold online via a subscription scheme, with Polestar Spaces established for those who prefer to shop in person. Subscriptions will be on a two- or three-year basis, although pricing has yet to be disclosed. Polestar is now taking orders following the car’s launch in Shanghai, China, this week.

JAMES ATTWOOD

POLESTAR TO FOLLOW COUPÉ WITH COMPACT EXEC AND SUV

Polestar will launch two more models in the next four years – a mid-sized Tesla Model 3 rival, due in 2019, followed by an SUV-style vehicle. Both will be battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

The firm hasn’t revealed specifics about either model, although it said the mid-sized BEV Polestar 2 car, currently in the engineering phase, will “join the competition” around the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is available with 50kWh and 70kWh batteries.

The Polestar 3 is described as a “larger SUV-style BEV” and “a modern expression of electric performance and driving dynamics”. It will sit between the Polestar 1 and entry-level Polestar 2 in terms of volume and pricing.

As with the Polestar 1, both machines are likely to draw heavily on Volvo architecture and technology.

Polestar boss Thomas Ingenlath said: “Being part of the Volvo Car Group enables Polestar to design, develop and engineer our cars using the processes of a well-established car company but, at the same time, enables us to experiment with new technology in lower-volume cars outside the mainstream segments.”

Both SUV and Tesla Model 3 rival will be electric only