pole position —
As COVID-19 shutters European and US plants, Polestar’s factory in China warms up.
Each year, there are usually one or two “it” cars—hotly anticipated new models that everyone’s eager to drive. The Tesla Model 3 had that buzz. So did the Porsche Taycan. And this year, the Polestar 2 has it. Polestar used to be a badge for souped-up Volvos, but the Swedish company and its Chinese owner Geely spun the brand out as its own thing, a purveyor of electric performance cars that keep capturing our imagination. And its important new battery electric sedan has just started production at the company’s factory in Luqiao, China.
The new brand’s first model was the cerebral Polestar 1, a plug-in hybrid GT that will remain a rare sight on the roads. That car was more of a four-wheeled statement, a carbon-bodied coupe that said “Hi, we’re here, and look what we can do with access to Volvo’s car architectures.” The follow-up is a much bigger deal. For one thing, it’s fully electric, a format to which future Polestars will adhere. It also promises to be much more practical—the Polestar 2 is a four-door fastback, designed to tempt buyers who are bored with the conventional German and Japanese sporty sedans.
And it packs some interesting technology. The car shares the same Compact Modular Architecture as the Volvo XC40, which was designed from the ground up to have BEV variants. The Polestar 2 also uses the same 78kWh battery pack that will go into the electric version of that crossover, giving it a WLTP range at launch of 470km (292 miles). It’s also one of the first cars to use Android as its infotainment OS, chosen in large part because of the robust developer ecosystem.
It’s also notable that Polestar is able to put its new BEV into production at a time when car factories in the US and Europe are mostly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The World is facing enormous upheaval in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. We start production now under these challenging circumstances with a strong focus on the health and safety of our people. This is a great achievement and the result of huge efforts from the staff in the factory and the team securing the supply chain. I have a huge amount of respect for the entire team—thanks to them!” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath.
A US-spec launch edition of the Polestar 2 will cost $63,000 before any EV incentives are accounted for, although less fully loaded versions should see sticker prices in the $40,000-$50,000 range. The company had planned to start deliveries in Europe this summer, then following later this year in China, Canada, and the US, although we wouldn’t be surprised if China takes pole position thanks to COVID-19.
Listing image by Jonathan Gitlin