Tesla has some big competition on its hand. Volvo’s Polestar has just unveiled its first set of electric vehicles, the aptly-named Polestar 1 and Polestar 2.
Volvo sister company Polestar isn’t shy about its intentions to lock horns with Tesla. Its first model, simply called 1 is more of an eco-friendly grand-tourer than a true Tesla fighter, but its second model the Polestar 2 is aimed directly at the Model 3. It’s more upmarket than cheaper electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf, it’s jam-packed with tech, it stands out with a head-turning design, and its’s shaping up to be the 3’s first real rival.
Although this first model is a plug-in hybrid, it lays the foundations for future fully electric cars that could give those looking for an affordable electric car an alternative to the Tesla Model 3.
“All future cars from Polestar will feature a fully electric drivetrain, delivering on our brand vision of being the new standalone electric performance brand,” Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. An all-electric Polestar 2 will enter production at the end of 2019, followed by an SUV-style Polestar 3 electric vehicle.
Both Polestar and Tesla are aimed at enticing consumers into the realm of electrification. But where the Tesla Model 3 starts from £38,000, with optional extras pushing the price up further, Polestar has gone for a unique approach where consumers subscribe to a car for two to three years, with maintenance and insurance covered as part of the fee. This is the only way to get your hands on a Polestar, and the price is currently unknown.
Tesla offers three versions of the Model 3 called Mid-Range, Long-Range, and Performance. The Mid-Range car comes with a 62-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers up to 264 miles of range. It’s equipped with a single electric motor mounted over the rear axle, so it’s rear-wheel drive.
In the Polestar, two electric motors generate 218 horsepower by themselves. A rear-axle battery combines with a transmission-based battery pack to offer 93 miles of electric range. The company claims it is the longest full electric range of any hybrid car on the market.
At launch, the Polestar 2 will come in a single configuration. Its drivetrain is built around a 78-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers electricity to two electric motors, each mounted over one of the axles. Its output checks in at 408 horsepower and 437 pound-feet of torque, which is enough for a sub-5-second sprint to 60 mph, and Polestar estimates the 2 will be capable of driving for up to 275 miles on one charge. That’s better than many electric cars on the market, including the Mid-Range version of the Model 3, but it falls short of the top-spec variants.
Though Polestar hasn’t announced a dedicated, performance-oriented model, it offers a Performance Pack that bundles a firmer suspension, bigger brakes made by Brembo, and specific alloy wheels wrapped by sport tires. Pricing for the Performance Pack hasn’t been announced yet.
Polestar 2 production will begin in early 2020 in a new facility in China. Pricing will start at £53,000 during the first year of production, because Polestar will only build an upmarket variant named Launch Edition. After the first year, Polestar will release more affordable variants of the 2 that should start in the vicinity of £36,000 before incentives enter the equation.
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Novo Insurance Team