Everything you need to know about Polestar
Polestar came onto the scene as a standalone manufacturer only in recent years, with their most popular model – the 2 – being dubbed the “Tesla killer” when it came out, it’s that good.
But who are Polestar, how did they start and who builds their cars? Read on to find out.
Who are Polestar?
Polestar are a high-performance electric car manufacturer from Sweden. They’ve been around since the late 90s in one form or another, but their purpose and mission as a company has changed quite a lot over the years – especially in the last 10-15, when they were bought out by Volvo (and Geely, more on that to come).
Polestar currently show three models on their website, but there’s no silly names here: 1, 2 and 3 are what they’re called, nice and simple.
- This was Polestar’s first model: a luxurious ‘premium performance hybrid’ with one petrol engine and three electric motors. With over 600 horsepower and 1000 Nm or torque, the Polestar 1 is supercar quick, and luxury-yacht fancy. You can’t buy them new now, though, as only 1500 were made and production stopped in 2021.
- Their big seller: the ‘electric performance fastback’. This was their first all-electric model and helped cement Polestar’s presence in the UK. Designed to go up against the Tesla Model 3, the 2 could come in various flavours, with two or four-wheel-drive options, Standard or Long Range batteries or a Performance pack for extra power.
- The one that’s coming soon: ‘the SUV for the electric age’. That’s what Polestar say, anyway. Their largest car aimed squarely at securing a place in the ever-growing SUV market, Polestar 3 is a blend of luxury, power and practicality. First deliveries of this model are set to be in 2023.
How did Polestar start?
Polestar, despite now being widely known as an electric car brand, have a rich history rooted in petrol powered motorsport.
Polestar originally started as an affiliate of Volvo back in 1996, under the guidance of driver Jan “Flash” Nilsson, going by the name of “Flash Engineering”. Their aim? To win the Swedish Touring Car Championship, known as the STCC.
You’ll be pleased to hear they did – twice in a row, in fact, in their modified Volvo 850.
In 2005, Nilsson sold the performance arm of the brand to Christian Dahl, who later renamed the company ‘Polestar’ – in attempt to say they’ll be on ‘pole’ position of every race.
Time passes, races go by, and Volvo see an opportunity to join forces with Polestar long-term to make their cars extra special. They decide to make Polestar their personal ‘performance partner’, with a similar vibe to the likes of the ‘M’ division for BMW or ‘AMG’ for Mercedes.
Polestar team with Volvo and go on to produce some extremely fast road going ICE cars, like the Volvo C30 Polestar, Volvo S60 Polestar and Volvo V60 Polestar, all in that iconic Polestar blue paint.
Come 2015, Volvo Cars purchase the performance brand of Polestar outright and change tact, with the sole focus to make high-quality, electric powered performance cars – which is when the Polestar 1 was dreamt up. Of course, that still had a petrol engine, but the Polestar 2 and 3 models are fully electric, and it’s said that all Polestars, from now on, will be road going BEVs (battery electric vehicles).
The existing track Polestar team, however, still operate today under the name of Cyan Racing.
Who owns Polestar cars?
Polestar are a brand owned by Volvo Cars, which in turn was acquired by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, (known colloquially as ‘Geely’) in 2010. Geely as a group have been around since 1986, but only ventured into vehicles themselves in 1997, which has since become their focus.
Geely are a Chinese “global mobility technology” group and own multiple sub-brands, including Lotus, Volvo Cars and smart (in partnership with Mercedes-Benz).
Volvo Cars however are who Polestar sit underneath within the Geely group. Volvo themselves have been creating cars since 1927 and are innovators in car safety, being one of (if not the) first brand to coin the seatbelt, side impact protection system and pedestrian detection systems.
Geely and Volvo are transforming Polestar into a premium electric vehicle manufacturer where “the sky is the limit”.
Who make Polestar cars?
Polestar build their own cars but rely heavily on influence from their parent companies Volvo Cars and Geely. Their vehicles, up to this point, tend to use existing vehicle platforms from Volvo. Polestar do tweak them, though, to give them a distinctive driving experience. Polestar 2, for example, is built on the same underpinnings as the Volvo XC40 and C40.
Where are Polestar cars built?
With Chinese electric vehicle manufacturing being some of the most successful around currently (leaving European manufacturers playing catch-up somewhat), it’s no surprise Polestar cars are manufactured in two facilities in China. It makes sense, as that’s where parent company Geely come from.
But Polestar are growing rapidly. To help expansion, their upcoming Polestar 3 SUV will be the first Polestar to get manufactured in their new South Carolina factory, in the US. That’s only for American customers, though, European Polestar 3 owners will have their vehicles produced in China, like the existing 2 model.
Let’s not forget though, the whole Polestar operation is very much global, with some of their research team based in Coventry:
We’re headquartered in Sweden. We have our dedicated R&D facility in the UK. And our vehicles are produced in both China and the US. In other words, we go where we can best realise our idea of design-led, sustainable, electric performance. It is a good idea, after all. And good ideas are welcome everywhere.
Now, of course, EV cynics might say “yes, that’s great, but shipping a load of cars around the world is hardly ‘zero emission’ of them, is it”.
They’d be right, of course.
But Polestar are working hard to get on top of that with their two mains goals to halve their carbon intensity and also create a truly carbon-neutral car by 2030. Then, go that extra step, and become a completely carbon neutral company by 2040. Big ambitions, which they go into detail about extensively.
Quite the history, but what about the future?
Polestar have huge plans, it seems, with the aim to release the 3 SUV this year, the 4 Crossover next year, the 5 grand-tourer in 2025 and the 6 sports car in 2026.
And they’re taking the sustainability side of things very seriously too, partnering with SSAB to create the world’s first truly climate-neutral car by the time the UK Government ban ICE car sales in 2030, with fossil-fuel-free made steel. That’s not the only collaboration though, with sustainability company Hydro coming on-board to help develop zero-carbon aluminium, and automotive giant ZF supporting Polestar to avoid creating emissions throughout the entire vehicle lifecycle (and not just planting trees afterwards to claim it’s ‘carbon neutral’).
Long story short, we get the feeling this is just the very start of Polestar’s long and exciting journey into mainstream EV production. Something tells us we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about them in the very near future.
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