What Is Polestar?
Polestar has a history in auto racing and performance that began with the company’s founding in 1996. In 2011 Polestar became the official performance partner of Volvo, and in 2015 Volvo acquired the company. Since that time the Polestar moniker had been associated with high-performance models of the Volvo lineup; however, at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show Volvo introduced Polestar as a new standalone electric performance brand. At that same show, Polestar unveiled its first model — aptly named Polestar 1 — along with plans to build 1,500 examples of the exotic machine. The Polestar 1 has run its course, and as it fades into history as the original launch model of the brand, Polestar recently provided a peek at what’s next for this up-and-coming automaker.
Final Polestar 1 Drive
Before delving into present and future plans for Polestar, we had the opportunity to take one last drive in the unique Polestar 1. This $155,000 sport coupe features a floor structure enhanced with carbon fiber crossmembers that increase rigidity by 60 percent. The bodyside panels inside and out — as well as the front fenders, hood, trunk and rear parcel shelf — are all constructed from carbon fiber. The carbon fiber body includes roof cross sections that make it possible to have a lower, sleeker roofline. The extensive use of this high-tech material saves more than 500 pounds, as well as lowers the center of gravity and increases body structure torsional stiffness.
Given the brand’s new EV mission, the Polestar 1 will be the only model in the lineup to ever use an internal combustion engine; from now on all Polestars will be full electric vehicles. Polestar 1 boasts one of the most complex power systems on the road, yet it works seamlessly. Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged, sending 326 horsepower to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. In addition, each rear wheel draws power from an electric motor that generates 232 horsepower. The result is a total output of 619 horsepower and a plentiful 738 lb-ft of torque. With all units engaged, the Polestar 1 sprints to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed limited to 155 mph.
The Polestar 1’s complex powertrain is a plug-in hybrid boasting one of the largest EV ranges of any PHEV on the road. During our recent drive we experienced more than 70 miles of electric-only driving. Plugged into a DC fast charger, the Polestar can be fully charged in less than an hour. The hybrid setup offers an extremely efficient powertrain. Driving the Polestar 1 hard through the mountains outside Ojai, California, for more than 200 miles, we averaged better than 30 mpg — not bad for a 600-plus horsepower sports coupe.
During our media test drive on some of the most challenging, exciting roads in Southern California, the Polestar 1 kept hearts racing and faces smiling. Looking like a large car yet feeling like a small, nimble sports car, the Polestar 1 made short work of twisty roads with plenty of power on tap. Active torque vectoring allows quick acceleration out of corners. A planetary gear in the rear axle permits power from each electric motor to be directed to a single wheel. Rather than applying brakes to the inner wheel, this system adds power to the outer wheel, driving the car confidently around corners. The Polestar 1 has precious little body roll and overall grip is significant.
Polestar 1 Retired
When the Polestar 1 launched, the auto brand indicated it planned to build 1,500 examples over three years. That has been accomplished — the last Polestar 1s have been built and final deliveries will take place early next year. With its unique powertrain and limited quantity, the Polestar 1 will likely become quite collectable.
With the last of the Polestar 1s arriving in showrooms soon, the current Polestar lineup is once again limited to one model: the Polestar 2. This fully electric sport sedan is available with a choice of two powertrains — Dual Motor all-wheel drive and Single Motor front-wheel drive. Considerably more affordable than the Polestar 1, the Polestar 2 starts at $45,900 and is eligible for the full $7,500 U.S. federal tax credit that puts the price less than $40,000. The dual-motor setup bumps up the price by $4,000.
Polestar 2 Single Motor
After our drive through the mountains in the Polestar 1, we took the brand’s latest offering — the Polestar 2 Single Motor — for a drive down the California coast. With a total MSRP of $52,400 (before the tax credit), our Polestar 2 featured a premium interior, a panoramic glass roof, a 13-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, Black Ash wood deco panels, and heated front and rear seats. Power comes from a single motor rated at 231 horsepower driving the front wheels. With its 78 kWh battery pack, the Polestar 2 Single Motor displayed a fully-charged range of 270 miles prior to our drive.
The Polestar 2 is one of the first vehicles on the road with infotainment built on an Android operating system. Accessed via a clear 11-inch vertical touchscreen display, the system features embedded Google services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play Store. Logging in with our personal Google account seamlessly integrated our map favorites, Spotify playlists and other streaming services. For example, after we determined our dinner destination via Google Maps on the phone, we climbed into the Polestar 2 and that destination immediately appeared on the vehicle’s display without any action required. Another nice feature is that the integrated Google Maps displays the percentage of battery expected to be remaining when the destination is reached.
Easy On, Easy Off
The Polestar 2 automatically recognizes its driver approaching the vehicle and immediately powers up display screens and other systems. Starting the vehicle requires no key turning nor button pushing — simply press the brake and put the car in gear. After arriving at a destination, the driver shifts the car to Park and gets out — the Polestar 2 automatically powers down.
On the Road
Although not as powerful as the Polestar 2 Dual Motor, the Single Motor version provided an enjoyable drive along the California coast. The Polestar 2 accelerates quickly and smoothly with more than adequate power for cruising on city streets or keeping up with traffic on freeways of Los Angeles. Polestar permits the driver to adjust the level of energy regeneration via the brakes, ranging from coasting to applying full braking that can bring the vehicle to a complete stop simply by lifting a foot from the throttle.
Comfortable Road Trips
The Polestar 2 offers plenty of space for luggage, which stays out of sight below a solid cargo cover. The car’s supportive seats remained comfortable during our trek between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. The Polestar 2 is a great example of how easy and enjoyable it would be to drive an EV every day. Up to 155 kW charging is available, and the batteries can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in 33 minutes at 150 kW, or in 8 hours on an 11 kW home charger.
Electric vehicles still make up a small percentage of total U.S. vehicle sales, although that number continues to grow with each passing year. In 2021 Polestar will sell approximately 29,000 vehicles worldwide, but with Polestar 2 continuing to ramp up and three new models on the way, the company is targeting 290,000 vehicles sold annually by 2025.
New Yet Established
“We are not a virtual company waiting to build factories and sell cars; we are an actual company already building and selling cars around the world,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO. “Our two award-winning cars are on the road in 14 markets globally and we expect our global sales volume to reach around 29,000 vehicles this year,” noted Ingenlath. Clearly, Polestar benefits from being part of the Volvo Group.
The next new model to arrive will be the Polestar 3 — the brand’s first SUV. Slated to debut next year, the Polestar 3 will also be the brand’s first vehicle produced in America — specifically at the Volvo Cars plant in Charleston, South Carolina. The Polestar 3 will be a larger luxury SUV designed to compete with vehicles similar in price and performance to the Porsche Cayenne. Details are still scarce, but Polestar is claiming a target range of around 375 miles on a single charge.
Following one year after the rollout of the Polestar 3, the company will introduce Polestar 4 — its second SUV. Polestar 4 will be smaller and sportier than the Polestar 3, and be more comparable to the Porsche Macan with a range similar to the Polestar 3. Both Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 are expected to be significant contributors to achieving the brand’s lofty 290,000-unit sales figure.
And as if those vehicles were not enough, in 2024 Polestar will introduce its new flagship, the Polestar 5. Polestar 5 will be based on the Polestar Precept concept introduced last year. The Polestar 5 will be a full-electric 4-door grand tourer that sports a low, sleek silhouette, further emphasized a 120-inch wheelbase. With fastback styling, the glass roof stretches from the top of the windshield to the rear decklid. This long vehicle provides space for a large battery pack as well as an expansive rear seat.
Along with the development of these new models, Polestar is working on a unique EV platform that will be used first in the Polestar 5. This new platform will feature an 800V battery pack that should be chargeable to 80 percent in about 20 minutes. The system will also be bi-directional so the vehicle can deliver power back to a residence as needed.
As part of this new development, Polestar 5 will use a new P10 motor teamed with a 2-speed gearbox with a dual clutch and a disconnect feature to improve efficiency. The motor’s compact design will make it possible to use the unit for a variety of applications. Polestar is anticipating power output from a single P10 motor to be about 450 kW — a bit more than 600 horsepower.
Past, Present and Future
Even though Polestar has been a standalone brand for merely a few years, it has already produced the limited-edition Polestar 1 and now sells the Polestar 2 worldwide. And since the brand is a step ahead of most EV-only car companies (Tesla being the exception), Polestar clearly has a bright, well-charged future ahead. Based on the vehicles Polestar has already brought to market, we can confidently express our excitement for the new products coming to market in the next three years.
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