Volvo’s performance arm has today unveiled what it calls the very first vehicle of its new era of performance electric cars. Polestar says the launch of the Chinese-built Polestar 1 will lead the way to two other models, the creatively named Polestar 2 and 3, in the coming years.
Australian buyers will be disappointed to know that for now, the Polestar 1 is left-hand-drive only. However, the two additional models will be made available in right-hand drive from the get go.
The Polestar 1 will be the first Polestar to not wear any Volvo badges, however it will take the internal combustion engine of its parent company’s T8 models.
That setup has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and supercharged petrol engine driving the front wheels, matched to two independently operating electric motors in the rear that allow for torque vectoring when needed.
Total hybrid system power output is estimated at 600hp or 441kW with torque coming in at a massive 1000Nm. The Polestar 1 coupe will have a kerb weight of over 2000kg but will have that weight distribution balanced around its carbon-fibre chassis.
The great majority of the Polestar 1’s top half and portions of its underbody and suspension are made from carbon fibre. Fellow Swedish brand Koenigsegg was consulted in the early stages of the carbon fibre project for it’s the very first time Volvo has used the material to this extent.
The lightweight material is both adhesively and mechanically bonded to the rest of the car’s steel body. By utilising heavy carbon fibre components and removing around 650mm of length from the S90’s SPA platform – which the Polestar 1 is based on – the company says it has saved around 230kg of weight and added 45 percent more structural rigidity.
That weight saving is incidentally offset by the 34kWh battery packs that are positioned at both ends of the vehicle, allowing the Polestar 1 a front-to-rear weight distribution of 48:52.
In pure electric mode, the Polestar 1 is capable of driving 150km without turning on its internal combustion engine, however, having that power unit in the front means the coupe can manage the expectations of a 2+2 grand tourer with extra range.
Polestar says its upcoming model is destined to have a 0-60mph time (0-96km/h) of less than four seconds, which, while quick, is notably slower than the higher-end Tesla Model S vehicles.
Nonetheless, according to the company, this isn’t an electric dragster: Polestar has employed the talents of suspension specialist group Ohlins to design a specific continuously controlled electronic suspension (CESi) system.
The company claims this will allow the Polestar 1 to go around corners like a proper sports car, rather than what we may currently expect from an electric car.
Most interestingly, the vehicle will be manufactured at a yet-to-be-built factory in China. So far, Polestar says it’s aiming to build between 500 to 1000 Polestar 1 cars each year, and intends to sell the majority of them from Tesla/Apple-like stores located around major world cities through a subscription system.
The extensive use of carbon fibre, which in this application is basically handmade, is the main limiting factor in the vehicle’s production numbers.
According to Polestar’s chief operating officer, Jonathan Goodman, the vehicle will likely cost around 130,000 euros ($194,978), but it will be sold almost primarily on a subscription model, which sees users pay a monthly fee totally inclusive of their costs including insurance, servicing and all other aspects of the ownership experience.
Polestar will even allow subscribers to request other cars for special occasions or rent Volvo or Polestar vehicles in other cities. Final details of the model are yet to be ironed out.
The Polestar 1 will go into production in 2019, with the Polestar 2 (a Tesla Model 3 competitor) and the Polestar 3, an electric SUV, set to follow from there.