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Polestar breaks away from Volvo; 0-400-0km/h wars

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

GOOD­BYE smurf blue tur­bocharged sedans and dal­liances in Su­per­cars. Hello elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and a bold new plan to make Volvo’s sub-brand Polestar a ma­jor global player in the per­for­mance car mar­ket. Three mod­els are un­der de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing a Tesla-fight­ing mid-sizer due by the end of 2019 and an SUV. But the first cab off the rank is the Polestar 1, a high-per­for­mance twoplus-two grand tourer, sched­uled to start pro­duc­tion in mid-2019.

Volvo badges are con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence, as the ‘1’ will be the first car to be ex­clu­sively branded Polestar. How­ever, it uses plenty of its par­ent com­pany’s tech un­der the skin. It’s built on Volvo’s Scal­able Plat­form Ar­chi­tec­ture, which un­der­pins all its lat­est mod­els in­clud­ing the XC90, S90 and XC60, but with 320mm cut from the wheel­base and a fur­ther 200mm from the rear com­pared to Volvo’s flag­ship four-door sedan.

Pow­er­ing the Polestar’s front wheels is a high-per­for­mance ver­sion of Volvo’s 2.0-litre twin­charged four-cylin­der, aided by dual elec­tric mo­tors at the rear adding 160kW. The two rear mo­tors are con­nected by plan­e­tary gears and al­low the Polestar 1 to op­er­ate as a rear-wheel drive elec­tric per­for­mance car with a range of up to 150km while also pro­vid­ing true torque vec­tor­ing. With all power sources op­er­at­ing, Polestar claims 441kW/1000Nm, but as we went to press no per­for­mance fig­ures had been pro­vided.

Sus­pend­ing the Polestar 1 is the world’s first ap­pli­ca­tion of Öh­lins’ new Con­tin­u­ously Con­trolled Elec­tronic Sus­pen­sion (CESi for short). Each damper is fit­ted with an elec­tronic valve that is able to con­stantly mon­i­tor driver in­put and road con­di­tions, re­act­ing in just two mil­lisec­onds, while also al­low­ing the driver to change sus­pen­sion set­tings on the fly. Brakes con­sist of 400mm discs and six-pis­ton calipers sup­plied by Ake­bono, who pro­vided the sys­tem for the McLaren P1.

The use of car­bon fi­bre sheds 230kg, in­creases the body’s tor­sional rigid­ity by 45 per cent and low­ers the cen­tre of grav­ity, with weight dis­trib­uted 48:52 front-to-rear. Polestar claims the han­dling and drive­abil­ity of its new coupe is just as im­por­tant as its out­right per­for­mance. “Most elec­tric cars are fast, that’s a prod­uct of the at­tributes of an elec­tric mo­tor,” says Polestar CEO Thomas In­gen­lath, “How­ever, for Polestar, per­for­mance is far more holis­tic than just straight-line speed. It’s about ac­cel­er­a­tion, but also about cor­ner­ing, brak­ing, sus­pen­sion con­trol, chas­sis feed­back and steer­ing feel.”

In ad­di­tion to the for­ward-think­ing me­chan­i­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tion, Polestar in­tends to rev­o­lu­tionise the buy­ing process. In fact, cars won’t be bought at all but rented cour­tesy of a monthly ‘sub­scrip­tion’ fee which in­cludes ser­vic­ing (in­clud­ing pick-up and de­liv­ery), in­sur­ance and a concierge ser­vice, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to sup­ply, fit and re­move ac­ces­sories on de­mand (roof racks, for in­stance) and the use of other Volvos should the need arise. Each sub­scrip­tion is for a fixed term of two to three years and any ex­tra costs will be added to the monthly in­voice. There will also be the abil­ity to use any An­droid or Ap­ple de­vice as a vir­tual car key.

As the halo model of the Polestar brand, a max­i­mum of 500 1s per year will be built in a brand-new pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in China. The fac­tory and de­vel­op­ment of Polestar’s mod­els are funded by a joint ven­ture be­tween Volvo and two in­vest­ment com­pa­nies within its par­ent com­pany, Zhe­jiang Geely Hold­ing, which has raised €640m (AUD$959m) in cap­i­tal. The fa­cil­ity is sched­uled for com­ple­tion mid-2018 and will be the first ‘Polestar Space’, in­clud­ing a cir­cuit for on-limit test drives.

Mas­sive 400mm discs and six­pis­ton calipers pro­vided by Ake­bono

Don’t call it a Volvo – Polestar’s first pro­duc­tion car prom­ises scald­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion and en­gag­ing dy­nam­ics

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