When most people think of Volvo, they don’t necessarily think cutting-edge high performance. Well that’s changing with Polestar.
For years Polestar badging was used to denote high-performance models from Volvo’s stable of cars, similar to BMW’s M vehicles. But in June 2017, Volvo, now owned by China’s Geely (0175.HK), decided to take the Polestar name and make it a new brand for high-performance, electric vehicles.
It’s not too hard to understand why Volvo made this move. Like the hockey great Wayne Gretzky (the Swedes do love their hockey, too), Volvo is skating to where the puck will be, not where it has been.
Which brings us to the Polestar 1, or P1, the first model that will be released by Polestar. First revealed in Shanghai in October 2017, the P1 is a 591-hp electric performance plug-in hybrid, pairing a turbo and supercharged 4-cylinder engine powering the front wheels and two electric motors powering the rear wheels.
Polestar says it will have the longest pure electric range of any hybrid in the world (150 kilometers, or approximately 93 miles), and will start production in mid-2019 at the new Polestar factory in China. In addition to its rather unique drivetrain, the P1 exterior is entirely made of carbon fiber, and the chassis has a steel floor for added stability with the battery loaded right in the middle of it. And, in a unique twist, inside the trunk are the electric arteries of the car if you will, with a piece of glass displaying how the orange high-output electric cables are wired. Very cool stuff.
The first full year of production has already sold out, with 200 cars currently destined for North American customers.
Ownership with a twist
The Polestar 1 is not cheap, starting at around $155,000. But buying or financing the car is not the only way to own the P1. In addition to operating retail experiences that they are calling Polestar spaces where potential clients can check out the car in a hassle-free environment, Polestar will also offer a robust digital offering. Via mobile app or desktop, buyers can purchase the car, or take part in Volvo’s innovative monthly subscription plan.
Just like Care by Volvo, buyers pay a monthly payment with no upfront costs. The monthly payment includes insurance, maintenance, and even replacement of perishable parts like brakes and wiper blades. In addition, cars will be picked up by Polestar technicians for service and returned to the owner’s home.
So not only is Polestar planting its flag in Tesla’s world with high performance electric vehicles, it’s also going after younger, tech-savvy luxury car buyers with an innovative ownership plan. And this is just the beginning, as its upcoming Polestar 2 will be all-electric (no hybrid here), and buyers will most likely ‘own’ the car using one of Volvo’s subscription plans.
There’s lots at stake here in this market, and Polestar is making sure its the got the right product, plus a Netflix-like ownership plan, to attract buyers. I’m pretty sure European rivals in Germany (BMW.DE) and the UK (TTM), as well as one upstart electric carmaker in California (TSLA) are taking notice.