Polestar: Volvo’s electric off-shoot explained

Published: 05 August 2020

► Volvo's electrified offshoot
► Two models already on sale...
► And many more to come

Polestar has won three Red Dot design awards including the gong for Brand of the Year in the contest’s Brands and Communication category. The Red Dot organisation said Geely’s EV-centric make took the top spot ‘for exceptionally well-designed brand communication,’ adding that it ‘succeeds in portraying a consistent brand image across various channels in its communication.’ 

In addition to the Brand of the Year award, Polestar also won the Best of the Best award for consistency in design quality and creativity. A book to coincide with the reveal of the all-electric Polestar 2 EV also took the award for ‘creativity and good craftmanship.’

Further electric reading:

What’s Polestar up to?

Polestar beat competition from over 6000 other entries, and it’s a significant milestone for fledgling brand. Originally a tuning off-shoot of Volvo, Polestar has quickly forged its own place in the EV sector, with its clean aesthetic and focus on sustainability being key differentiators from its Swedish ancestor.

Headed by Thomas Ingenlath – previously a top designer at Volvo and before that the VW Group – Polestar is no longer the sub-brand of Volvo, but a Geely-backed contender in its own right. And with a former-designer at the helm, it’s no wonder it's winning Red Dot awards.  

Thomas Ingenlath interview

‘I wanted to be able to shape a new electric car company in more than just design. That was a tremendous challenge and a huge incentive. Besides, designers now work beyond the look of a car. We’re involved in brand, engineering, production, marketing, and more. I think designers are now more qualified to be CEOs than ever.’

So what Polestar cars can you actually buy and what’s on the horizon? Keep reading for a quick guide on everything from Polestar right now, plus everything to look out for.

Polestar range

Polestars will not simply be ‘electrified Volvos,’ Ingenlath told CAR. ‘Volvo is clearly defined by its comfort, safety and practicality’. 

‘Polestar is not bound by [this]. Polestars will be designed more around the individual, and be more progressive and performance-oriented.

Ingenlath wants to offer more ‘complete performance electric cars’ than any current offering. ‘Electric cars now are defined by their acceleration. That’s useless in day-to-day driving, and sometimes they’re so fast they can be frightening. We will make cars that are really enjoyable to drive in handling, steering and in overall everyday performance.'

Polestar 1

The Polestar 1 was the very first car launched by Polestar, and a state of intent for Geely’s premium electrified brand. A hybrid two-door coupe, the Polestar 1 bares the most resemblance to a Volvo of the models released so far; aside from the grille, the 1 looks a lot like a slightly shortened S90 saloon. That’s because it’s based on the Volvo Concept Coupe of 2013.  

It uses a version of the SPA platform and a modified 592bhp, Volvo T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain to boost performance and electric-only range. 62mph arrives from a standstill in just 4.2 seconds, and there’s an all-electric range of 93 miles. In addition, features such as adjustable Öhlins shocks hint at Polestar’s tuning-firm beginnings. 

Inside, the Polestar borrows heavily from the Volvo, range too – so it uses a variant of the brand’s Sensus touchscreen software.  

While it is available to buy in the UK for £139,000, the Polestar 1 is also available via a monthly subscription model, though currently only available in LHD form.  

Read our review of the Polestar 1 here

Polestar 2

The Polestar 2 is the first bespoke EV from the brand, and therefore the most true to the brand’s mission for electrification. The Tesla Model 3 wears a tweaked version of Volvo’s Concept 40.2 design, but stuffs a four-wheel-drive, 402bhp EV powertrain capable of 0-62mph in 2.7 and a range of 311 miles. It’s priced at £49,900.

Inside, the Polestar 2 surrenders its infotainment system to Google; the 2 uses the search giant’s new HMI software, essentially a more powerful, baked-in version of Android Auto. 

Like all Polestars, it’s Swedish engineered and Chinese manufactured, on a dedicated site next to Volvo’s existing factory in Chengdu. 

Read our review of the Polestar 2 here 

Polestar 3

An all-electric ‘aerodynamic’ SUV is the next car on the Polestar roadmap, though there’s very little we actually know about it. CAR understands it’ll be revealed in 2022 and should be more in keeping with the first EV efforts from Audi and Jaguar; making it an e-Tron and I-Pace rival. 

It’s unclear what shape the 3 will take; there aren’t any existing concepts from Volvo or Polestar that point to an aerodynamic SUV as Ingenlath describes. We do know the styling will riff on the themes shown in the Polestar Precept concept below, though.  

The 3 is likely to be the most popular EV out of the lot, with increased practicality over the 2 and especially 1. So why wait? Judging by the brand’s strong sense of identity and considered marketing approach, it’s possible Ingenlath and Co wanted to first present Polestar DNA on the more engaging canvases of a performance hybrid and squat crossover EV. 

With Polestar’s now award-winning design language in place, the Polestar 3 is ready for deployment.  

Polestar CEO Ingenlath has indicated the Polestar 3 will be priced somewhere between the 1 and the 2.  

Polestar 4: Precept 

The Polestar 4 hasn’t been officially announced yet, but sources suggest the recent Precept concept is our first look at the Polestar 4. The largest departure from Volvo’s styling yet, the Precept builds on the themes of the first cars but goes bigger and bolder; Gothenberg’s Thor’s hammer headlights have been split, while new features such as the sensor-filled SmartZone and roof-mounded Lidar get their debut. 

The Polestar 4 takes the shape of a four-door GT, which places the Porsche Taycan and forthcoming e-Tron GT firmly in its crosshairs. 

‘Precept is a declaration, a vision of what Polestar stands for and what makes the brand relevant,’ said Ingenlath. ‘The car is a response to the clear challenges our society and industry face.’ 

Read more on the Polestar Precept

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast