By Tamara Warren
Polestar, the performance electric vehicle brand spun off by the Volvo group, is the latest automaker to jump into the burgeoning EV space. The new company, owned by Zhejiang Geely, showed off its first model, the Polestar 1 ー a plug-in hybrid ー at the Classic Car Club in Manhattan.
Executives shared plans on efforts to make a dent in a space that will soon become crowded.
“Within the next three years we’ll have a very strong position in the electric market,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in an interview with Cheddar.
The Polestar 1 will have a 100 mile range of pure electric power, the longest in the plug-in hybrid field. Priced around $155,000, it's already sold out before it's even reached dealerships. The company is only making 1,500 units of its flagship launch vehicle, which is hand-built from carbon fiber ー an expensive, lightweight, and durable material. It will include advanced telematics such as an Android-based human machine interface.
The vehicle may not be intended for the masses, but it establishes a new marque, distinct from Volvo. It also lays the foundation for the Polestar 2, a fully electric car primed to compete with the Tesla Model 3, which Ingenlath said will be shown in the first quarter of 2019. To drive home the message on its plans for innovation, the company is exploring a subscription model. It’s all part of a strategy to reimagine the car-shopping and ownership experience.
“We aim for the premium electric segment. There, the offering is still very poor,” Ingenlath said. “To give electrification a strong push, it needs a brand like Polestar joining the club.”
Polestar is one of many brands doubling down on electric car production to compete squarely in the same space as Tesla. Tesla’s direct sales model to consumers is one way that company has set itself apart from mainstream automakers. Polestar and others are pursuing other ways to upend the traditional sales experience.
The number of electric cars available now is still scant. Beyond the all-electric Tesla lineup are the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. The newest addition is the Jaguar I-Pace, which will begin deliveries shortly. But a flurry of electric cars will come to market in the next several years, including the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Nero EV.
The onslaught begins in 2019.
The Volkswagen group has been aggressive in pushing the advent of new product. Last week the it showed off the Audi e-tron. This summer, it shared more details about the Porsche Taycan, which boasts a range of 310 miles and a speed of 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds. It also goes on sale next year. The production model of the VW-branded ID Concept is yet to be named, but will also be offered as a more affordable electric option.
Mercedes-Benz recently unveiled the EQC, which will be introduced in Europe next year and will come to the U.S. in 2020. In September, BMW showed off the iX3, its next generation electric autonomous driving concept. And at the high end of the market, the Aston Martin RapidE electric sedan will be delivered in 2019.
Whether consumers and the infrastructure are ready for it, electrification is primed to storm the roadways. EVs will grow from 3 million to 125 million by 2030, according to a 2018 report from the International Energy Agency. Much of this growth will center on China, where regulations have provided a boost to EV production. Stateside, California is expected to drive the EV market, with its push toward zero emissions. Germany and Japan are also rising consumers in the EV space, whereas Norway leads in EV market share.
One additional model has been announced for 2020 — the second generation Tesla Roadster. Its introduction drives home the point that that Model S, first sold in 2013, is no longer the new kid on the block. It remains to be seen whether new offerings can glean some of its shine.
(Tamara Warren is a contributor for Cheddar Rides. Tune in every Wednesday at 3:30 pm ET to catch the latest episode.)
For full interview click here.