The automotive industry as we know it is in the midst of a major change. The environmental impact of the internal combustion engine, our reliance on fossil fuels and mounting pressure from customers for a cleaner, more technologically advanced future are forcing the biggest names in the business to completely re-think their strategy.
But with so many manufacturers bogged down by over 100 years of production history, change is slow and often painful, leaving ample room for quick-thinking innovators in the field. Alas, flexibility is only one aspect, as today’s customer still demands a clean reputation, an impeccable safety record and a brand trustworthiness that can only be forged over time.
Polestar feels it is in a unique position. Here is a brand that has enjoyed a clean sheet that only a box-fresh brand provides, yet benefits from the eminence enjoyed by its sister company Volvo and owners Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
As a result, it has been able to break with industry convention and, as it states, wave goodbye to normal. This manifests itself in a line-up that consists purely of desirable, comfortable, practical and powerful all-electric and hybrid cars.
The first illustration of this policy is the Polestar 2 – a vehicle that follows hot on the heels of the performance hybrid (and limited in number) Polestar 1. The base model starts at €39,900 (£34,200), placing it firmly in Tesla Model 3 territory, while an all-wheel drive electric powertrain puts out 300kW (408hp) and 660Nm of torque. This means that Polestar claims the 2 will be capable of 0-100kph (0-62mph) in less than five seconds, and can travel up to 500km (310 miles) on a single charge of the 78kWh battery pack.
Manufacturers distancing themselves from the internal combustion engine is a trend on the rise, but Polestar is taking things further with its divorce from tradition. “The automotive world is changing. Connectivity is a basic necessity. Car sharing and new types of ownership are becoming standard. We embrace all of this. We will lead the way. Polestar is the Guiding Star,” says Thomas Ingenlath, CEO at Polestar and former chief of design at Volvo.
Polestar is even changing something as simple as a physical car-key by adding new ways of unlocking its vehicles – it now places the owner’s smartphone at the centre of the digital experience. Polestar 2 will unlock as soon as the driver touches the door handle, so long as a registered smartphone device is nearby, while the same piece of pocket technology sets up the vehicle to the user’s preferences: seat height, mirror position and infotainment settings are all taken care of.
On that subject, the Polestar 2 is the first car to come with an infotainment system that has been designed from the ground up alongside technology giants Google. The Android operating system uses Google Assistant and Polestar’s natural voice recognition for much of its functionality, while constant connectivity via a built-in SIM card allows for real-time information and access to the Google Play Store for downloading the latest apps. On top of this, it remains future-proof thanks to simple over-the-air updates – meaning it never feels out of date or incompatible with the latest innovations.
However, this unique user experience begins long before the Polestar 2 arrives on a driveway, because the innovative company is also looking to revolutionise the way we select, purchase and interact with the vehicle of the future.
Car configuration and purchasing is all made online, with stylish Polestar Spaces acting as a hub for customers to interact with the brand, rather than the traditionally stuffy surrounds of a standard car showroom. As for the infotainment system, a bespoke Polestar app will allow future customers to organise and arrange a convenient collection and drop-off for scheduled servicing.
Polestar believes the shift towards electrification isn’t happening fast enough and that the traditional method of buying and owning a car is in vital need of a refresh. Its commitment to stunning exterior design and innovative materials manifested itself in the beautiful Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid, and now the brand’s interior characteristics and its dedication to cutting-edge technology can be seen in the Polestar 2.
Soon, customers will be able to explore and purchase an entire range of all-electric and hybrid vehicles online or in one of the dedicated Spaces, with an upcoming 3 SUV already on the horizon. The brand might be new, but it is busy cementing a reputation for exquisite design, the latest technology and cleaner powertrains by daring to be different. Goodbye normal, hello Polestar.
Find out more about Polestar 2 and how the innovative brand is breaking with convention by visiting polestar.com