Polestar, formerly Volvo’s in-house tuner and currently Volvo’s electric and hybrid performance sub-brand about to launch its own chain of retail locations, will debut its first production model at the Geneva motor show in a matter of weeks. The world saw images of the Polestar 1 hybrid luxury 2+2 grand tourer coupe back in October, but this will be the first chance for auto show visitors to see it in the carbon fiber before it goes on sale in mid-2019.
The coupe will be powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four paired with two electric motors drawing juice from a 34-kWh battery pack. The two electric motors will churn out 218 hp, while the 2.0-liter gasoline engine will produce 382 hp. Together, this dynamic duo will be good for an even 600 hp and 737 lb-ft of torque. The Polestar 1 will have a pure-electric range of 93 miles and some serious sprinting ability, even though Volvo hasn’t published official performance stats just yet.
Along with a number of recent Volvo models, the carbon fiber-bodied Polestar 1 will ride on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA), but its wheelbase will be about a foot shorter than the other SPA-platform cars.
Volvo plans to produce up to 500 examples of the Polestar 1 per year, and will only offer them on a subscription basis.
“Polestar 1 is the first car to carry the Polestar on the bonnet,” said Thomas Ingenlath, chief executive officer of Polestar. “A beautiful GT with amazing technology packed into it — a great start for our new Polestar brand. All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand.”
Despite its Tesla-fighter goal, Volvo doesn’t plan to make a whole lot of these: Just 500 coupes per year, and instead of offering them for sale it plans to offer them for two- and three-year subscription terms (yes, like a magazine, except you don’t get to keep the car afterwards). This form of … non-ownership is a part of Volvo’s strategy of phasing in the subscription model (to be offered on the XC40 first), which includes insurance and maintenance in addition to other services, as an alternative to the traditional buying/leasing experience through a franchised dealership.
“Polestar will also move away from today’s traditional ownership model,” Volvo said. “Cars will be ordered 100 percent online and offered on a two or three year subscription basis. The zero-deposit, all-inclusive subscription will also add features such as pickup and delivery servicing and the ability to rent alternative vehicles within the Volvo and Polestar range, all incorporated into one monthly payment.”
If a large 2+2 grand tourer hybrid coupe with a production run of 500 units annually isn’t your cup of tea, Polestar plans to debut more mass-market cars very soon: Polestar 2 will be a battery-electric, non-hybrid sedan aimed at the Tesla Model 3, set to enter production in 2019, while Polestar 3 will be an electric SUV expected in 2021. By the time the later Polestar models go on sale, they’ll already have competitors from Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz in their particular segments.