POLESTAR, Volvo’s nascent electric offshoot, will bring its first purely-electric model to the Australian market in 2019 with at least 560km of single-charge range and a sizable 300kW output.
Speaking to UK outlet Autocar at the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend, Polestar chief operating officer Jonathan Goodman described the 560km range of entry-level Polestar 2s as “the lower ‘bookend’ of our showroom range”. As far as baseline range figures go in the world of electric cars, it’s a number that should quell any notion of ‘range anxiety’.
Unlike the limited-production Polestar 1 performance car that has already been revealed, the Polestar 2’s generous range and healthy power output is expected to generate significant mainstream appeal. “It should give us as much access to the volume end of the EV market as we need,” continued Goodman.
It will differ heavily from the Polestar 1. Polestar’s first product is built off a shortened version of Volvo’s SPA architecture, which also underpins the S90, XC90, S60 and XC60, though augments the steel floorpan with carbon-fibre structures and carbon bodywork. And while it produces a prodigious 440kW and 1000Nm in power and torque, it achieves that through a petrol-electric hybrid setup that mates a 2.0-litre turbo and supercharged four-cylinder with a pair of electric motors.
With the petrol engine switched off the Polestar 1 has 160kW of purely-electric power and achieves just 150km of range before requiring the engine to be fired up, so its credentials as an eco-warrior are not quite as impressive as its performance stats. That’s where the Polestar 2 – and its companion Polestar 3 – will come in.
The design of the 2 is yet to be revealed, though it’s believed that the three-box compact sedan revealed as Volvo’s Concept 40.2 in 2016 (pictured) is the inspiration for Polestar’s mass-market EV. Built on Volvo’s CMA platform which currently underpins the XC40 – and will be used by every other future Volvo model positioned beneath the XC60 and S60 – its bones are wholly different to the SPA-platformed Polestar 1.
The Polestar 3 will follow the 2 and is expected to take the form of an SUV, though given Volvo’s own XC40 will soon add a purely electric variant to its ranks, it’s unclear exactly how Polestar’s battery-powered crossover will differentiate itself.
What’s clear though, is that Polestar won’t go down the avenue of overtly announcing the electrified nature of its cars through design.
“EV owners will come from all walks of life,” Goodman said. “So it’s a mistake to assume that, because the cars are electric, you have to make them quirky or futuristic.”
“Other brands may be doing that, but, if we’re looking at a market worth 30m cars within seven years, it isn’t going to be niche - it’s going to be mainstream. So you just design a great-looking car, not one with a big blue flash down the side.”
The company won’t be pitching itself to a certain type of buyer either. Tech-obsessed early adopters may be driving much of the uptake in EVs right now, but Goodman doesn’t intend to target that crowd.
“Electric cars will be just as appealing to young executives as they are to London retirees,” he said. “It’s a new market, and purchase intentions will vary. So we’ve got to be a welcoming brand that’s not geeky, cliquey or judgmental.”