Volvo’s new performance hybrid, the Polestar, looks set to become a major Tesla rival

Volvo’s Polestar 1 GT revealed at the Geneva motor show Simon Thomsen
  • Polestar, Volvo’s high performance brand, is becoming a standalone electric car maker
  • The CEO says its first car, the Polestar 1 GT, is ‘in the supercar bracket’.
  • The cars are being made in China and will begin hitting the streets next year

GENEVA – Swedish carmaker Volvo is the talk of the Geneva international motor show today for three reasons.

The Chinese-owned premium manufacturer won the European Car of the Year for the first time with its compact SUV, the XC40, while the company’s President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson, was named the 2018 World Car Person of the Year by the World Car of the Year jury.

The business posted a record profit last year, up 27.7%, as well as record sales of 571,577 cars.

But the one car that has everyone talking doesn’t even feature the Volvo badge. It’s the Polestar 1, a plug-in hybrid with a petrol engine — 2 litre 4-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged — for the front wheels and two electric motors driving each rear wheel.

The Polestar 1 GT interior features an Orrefors crystal gearstick Simon Thomsen

The combination results in an impressive 447kw (600hp) of power and 1000Nm of torque.

The rear wheel battery cables in the boot of the Polestar 1 GT Simon Thomsen

Two electric motors produce 80kW (109hp) each, with torque of 480 Nm on the rear wheels. The battery stack adds another 34kW (46 hp) and 150Nm of torque to the set up.

Volvo says the car will have the longest full electric range of any hybrid car on the market — 150km (93 miles) of electric power alone.

When Business Insider looked at the Polestar 1 today, just two small details revealed the car’s heritage amid its distinctive look.

The distinctive Thor’s hammer running lights on the Polestar Supplied

The first is the T-shaped “Thor’s hammer” daytime running lights, the second, the Orrefors crystal gearshift.

Polestar, Volvo’s high performance brand, has been around for two decades — it builds the S60 and V60 Polestar — and now appears to be positioning to become a Tesla rival. Late last year the company announced plans to become standalone electric performance brand. Three models are in the pipeline to be built at a new purpose-built production facility in Chengdu, China.

The first Polestar 1 GT — a two-door, 2+2 seat Grand Tourer coupé — is due to roll off the production line in mid-2019.

Polestar plans to produce 500 cars annually, but in making its public debut at the Geneva show on Tuesday, the company’s CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, said they’d already had interest from 6,000 potential customers.

Pre-orders open on 13 March 2018 and the company is asking for a fully-refundable deposit of €2,500 ($AU4000).

The Polestar 1 GT is a 2-door with room for 4 Simon Thomsen

The bad news for Australian fans is that Polestar has not included the country on the 18 markets of the list, including China, the UK, the USA and Canada, and several European countries.

Ingenlath says that list covers “around 95% of the geographical interest” for the premium hybrid with a carbon fibre body.

An interesting part of the Polestar concept is that as an alternative to buying it outright: there’s an option to subscribe to it for two or three years.

The monthly subscription model “has been designed to take the traditional hassle out of vehicle ownership with one monthly fee that includes sundries like insurance and maintenance,” Ingenlath says.

The Polestar 1 GT Simon Thomsen

The other fun tech part of the concept is a “phone-as-key” system which lets you access the car via a smartphone app, as well as letting you create a virtual key to authorise access for others.

The following two Polestar cars will have a fully electric powertrain. The mid-sized Polestar 2 — think Tesla Model 3 — will start production in late 2019 followed by the larger SUV-style Polestar 3.

Both cars will come to Australia.

Polestar doesn’t yet have a price for its debut product, but given Ingenlath says it’s “very much in the supercar bracket”, expect the price tag to match the claim.

The Polestar 1 GT Simon Thomsen
Polestar 1 GT from above Supplied
Polestar 1 Supplied

* Business Insider Australia traveled to the Geneva international motor show as a guest of Lexus.