Polestar charged into the world of electrified vehicles with the release of the iconic Polestar 1 and continues to push forward at a breakneck pace. The Polestar 1 is a high performance plug-in hybrid, with the Polestar 2 entering the fray as the first fully electric vehicle from the new brand.
The Polestar 1 was launched as a brand-defining halo vehicle, with a limited 3-year, 1,500 vehicle production run. Polestar is putting a bow on the final run of the impressive vehicle with an exclusive final version of the vehicle dipped in an exclusive matte gold paint. All it’s missing is a big red bow on top.
To celebrate the Polestar 1 and to map out the future of the brand, Polestar brought us up to Santa Barbara for a chat. We sat down with Head of Polestar USA Gregor Hembrough and his team to talk through Polestar’s plan to launch three new fully electric vehicles over the next three years and much more.
Disclaimer: Polestar paid for room and board for the author to attend this event.
The Polestar 1
Right off the bat, we have to start with the Polestar 1. It is a performance plug-in hybrid and that includes a petrol engine. The vehicle was never intended to be a long-term fixture in the Polestar lineup and started out as a twinkle in the eyes of a few Volvo engineers back around 2013. That’s when the idea of spinning off Polestar, Volvo’s racing team partner since 1996, was first broached.
The Polestar 1 was shaped up as an iconic vehicle that represented the essence of the company. It would bring the highest of performance, pull forward the classic design of the Volvo P1800, and be built using race-inspired modern materials. It seemed farfetched, but the team believed there was enough there to move forward with the design, and the Polestar 1 was born. As the realities of fleshing out a completely autonomous brand manifested, Polestar grew to embody the ideals of a fully electric, completely sustainable company.
Thankfully, the Polestar 1 was limited to a 3-year, 1,500 vehicle production run of the $155k vehicle that just wrapped up in November ’21. The last Polestar 1 vehicles will be delivered to their final destinations in the first quarter of 2022, after which they will become even harder to find collector vehicles.
As of this month, Polestar will only design and build fully electric vehicles. That starts with the mid-sized Polestar 2 sedan, with another three vehicles being launched over the next three years. Polestar is pushing at the pace of a startup, but with the strength of the full upstream supply chain and downstream logistics infrastructure of both Volvo and parent company Geely.
The Polestar 3 is aimed at the full-sized SUV market, taking aim at the likes of the Porsche Cayenne with a starting price that’s expected to be around $90k. They’re still being shy with details about the new vehicle, only releasing a camouflaged teaser image to date. It is expected to launch in 2022 with a 375+ mile / 600+ kilometer range.
We know even less about the Polestar 4, but it is expected to be a medium sized SUV/CUV with the Porsche Macan in its sights. Most recently, Polestar confirmed that the Polestar Precept concept would officially make its way to production as the Polestar 5.
The future looks bright for Polestar, with an aggressive plan to launch three new cars over the next three years with plans to go public via a SPAC, in partnership with Gores Guggenheim, Inc (investor deck PPT).
We left our hotel in Santa Barbara in the morning just as the sun started to cook off the heavy marine layer that settled in overnight. Our 206-mile route for the day took us through the meandering foothills of Santa Barbara, swooping turns leading into the elusive Ojai Valley, into the long straightaways of the high California desert, wrapping up with some of the most intense corkscrew turns on earth.
Leaving the hotel, Highway 192’s sinuous route led me through the oversized estates of the ultra wealthy in the varied foothills above Santa Barbara and Montecito. The Polestar 1 seemed to wake up as the sun dried the road, providing a better grip with every passing turn. The route is ideal for the Polestar 1, with winding curves to tease out the instant torque of the twin electric motors punctuated by longer straightaways that beg the driver to open up the full performance of the plug-in hybrid’s powertrain.
Crossing over into the Ojai Valley, the corkscrews of Highway 150 stretch out into longer straightaways behind the receding lines of Lake Casitas as the route wound down to the valley floor. Here, I was able to truly let the beast out of its cage and I was increasingly thankful for the Polestar 1’s massive Akebono 6-pot brakes and performance pads.
These performance brakes are not something you’ll want to take to the track, but are more than enough for the occasional jaunt into the mountains to get the adrenaline pumping. As the first leg of the journey wound down, I was ready to supplement my already pulsing adrenaline supply with some much-needed caffeine at the Ojai institution that is Beacon Coffee.
Fully caffeinated, I left Ojai to the north on Highway 33. I adjusted the seat position and the driving mode from a more aggressive posture into Pure Mode, where the vehicle silences the combustion engine in favor of the twin electric motors. They propelled me through the curves winding north out of the valley, making the call of nearby nature that much more attractive.
In Pure Mode, the Polestar 1 was transformed from a beast roaring for the next curve into a fully electric silent beast gliding through each turn as a hawk soars down from the heights in search of prey. The duality of the Polestar 1 is the perfect bridge from Polestar’s performance combustion-fueled roots in partnership with Volvo and the fully electric future.
Experiencing Polestar’s vehicles in person, the brand feels like someone took all the cool bits of Polestar’s performance roots in Volvo and brought them together into a unified, electric brand experience. Indeed, the Polestar brand evolved out of parent company Volvo as the performance tuning arm of the company.
As the highway opened up in the high desert behind Santa Barbara, the Polestar 1’s Pilot Assist suite of driver assistance technologies came into play. Curves are exciting and keep the adrenaline flowing, but long straightaways can feel monotonous.
Much like Tesla’s Autopilot, Polestar’s Pilot Assist combines adaptive cruise control with an extremely accurate lanekeeping function to take the majority of the work of piloting the vehicles off the driver. You still have to keep a hand on the wheel and your eyes on the road, ready to take over, but the strain is greatly reduced.
After lunch at the Cuyama Buckhorn, my mind thought back on just how cool it was that this vehicle was the bridge between the combustion past and the fully electric future. Similarly, Polestar evolved to become that bridge. To pull together the right team to build the fully electric future.
The future is electric and thanks to companies like Polestar, the fully electric future is available now.
All images credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica