Electric Cars

Volvo's Polestar promises a Tesla Model 3 rival in 2019

First-ever full-electric vehicle from the Volvo Car Group will be a key part of its new-model onslaught.

Polestar

Polestar has just revealed its first-ever standalone model in Shanghai, the Polestar 1 coupe, so it seems premature to ask what's next for Volvo's newly spun-off performance brand. Fortunately, that isn't stopping company officials from being surprisingly candid about laying out a calendar framework for the young brand. Polestar's Production Centre (artist's rendering above) is currently under construction in Chengdu, China, and is slated to be finished by mid-2018. Assembly of the Polestar 1 is promised to come online in mid-2019, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Now Playing: Watch this: Five things you need to know about the Polestar 1
1:12

Polestar 2, the first full battery-electric vehicle (BEV) from the Volvo Car Group, will also enter production in 2019. An official statement from Polestar says the as-yet-unseen car will be a "mid-sized" model "joining the competition around the Tesla Model 3." The latter suggests the vehicle should be significantly more affordable than whatever the base price ends up being for the 600-hp Polestar 1 halo car. So far, company officials are declining to lay out estimated range figures for Polestar 2, let alone any other performance metrics.

On one hand, 2019 seems a bit late to the party given that Tesla's Model 3 is in production and Chevrolet already beat both automakers to market with its own long-range Bolt EV. But considering the Bolt's modest sales out of the gate -- as well as the trickle of new vehicles coming out of Tesla's factory in Fremont, CA -- Polestar's timing may not be off at all. With Tesla CEO Elon Musk continuing to admit that his company is in "deep in production hell" and scuttlebutt suggesting that it may be as long as a year before true volume production ramps up, it's possible that Polestar 2's arrival could coincide with a crescendo in interest around mainstream EVs. After all, among other things, a longer-range version of the Nissan Leaf should be on the market then, as well as fresh competitors from rivals as diverse as Hyundai and Volkswagen.

Okay, you caught us. This isn't the as-yet unrevealed Polestar 2, it's the company's latest WTTC racecar under a sheet. 

Polestar

Thereafter, a larger Polestar 3 SUV model is scheduled to go into production, completing the "initial phase" of the brand's portfolio. Interestingly, the Polestar 1 coupe will be the division's first and last plug-in hybrid model, as the company says "All future cars from Polestar will have a fully electric powertrain." 

That said, according to Dean Shaw, vice president of corporate communications, Volvo will continue to offer Polestar-tuned performance models through its own distribution channel. In other words, model's like today's Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar will have successors, but their branding will change a bit to further separate the two divisions — future models will be be referred to as "Polestar engineered," and they could receive revised badges. Volvo has not yet confirmed if such models will be BEV or feature internal-combustion engines with some level of hybridization. 

After being neglected for years, thanks to an infusion of money from China's Geely starting in 2010, Sweden's Volvo Car Group has undergone a remarkable product-led transformation that began with its second-generation XC90 SUV. The company may have a long way to go to reach the same volume and consideration status as rivals like Audi and BMW, but its plans for Volvo and Polestar are nothing if not ambitious. 

The next few years are shaping up to be very promising for fans of hot Swedes -- even if they speak with a Chinese accent.