Polestar has had a kick-start entering the auto business with the success of its first car model carrying the Polestar badge, the Electric Performance Hybrid Polestar 1. With a limited yearly production capacity of 500 units, more than 6150 people around the world have now raised interest in getting their hands on the car.
Polestar's Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Ingenlath, is leading the rapid development of Polestar into an electric performance brand and presented the latest status of the brand at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show.
"I'm very happy about the positive global interest that Polestar has raised since we announced the Polestar 1 and our new business strategy in October last year," said Thomas Ingenlath. "With our current plans to produce 500 cars per year, it's possible that we have exceeded our production potential in these early stages. This positive reinforcement really encourages us to deliver a world-class electrified sports car."
The six initial launch markets have increased to 18. Formal pre-orders for the Polestar 1 will open in Europe, China and North America simultaneously, including the already announced initial markets: China, the United States, Sweden, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands. An additional 12 new launch markets are Switzerland, the UK, Belgium, Finland, France, Poland, Austria, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Portugal and Canada.
"Following our global reveal and brand launch in Shanghai last year, the Polestar 1 received immediate interest from potential customers all over the world," said Ingenlath. "We are very excited to see how the initial response translates into pre-orders. And we are delighted to be able to open pre-ordering of the Polestar 1 to these eighteen markets, which cover around 95 percent of the geographical interest from potential Polestar 1 customers."
Production of customer cars is set to begin in the middle of 2019 at the new bespoke factory in Chengdu, China, where the Polestar 1 will come to life. However, tooling installation and the start of pre-production testing will begin before the end of 2018.
"It might sound like we have plenty of time still," said Ingenlath, "but we are in the middle of a very busy period with technology verification testing of the Polestar 1, the building of the factory and preparing for pre-series production, while at the same time working with the extensive business preparations and a customer service program for the market introduction. I have a great deal of respect for the challenges we face. But I can assure you my whole team is working very hard to put all the pieces together in a perfect way."
The dedicated space where brands present their products is normally a place intended to create an interesting context, reflecting the product in colors and materials, or to communicate a certain lifestyle. But it can also be a place built to lead the visitor into a preferred mindset. At the busy Geneva International Motor Show, this is what Polestar intends to do.
"For us at Polestar, all focus is on the car," said Pär Heyden, Head of Brand at Polestar. "It's at the center of everything we do. I would say the car is almost holy to us. But our strong passion for perfection and details cannot be shouted out and sold in a busy market square. Instead, it requires a calm environment designed for conversation and knowledge-sharing. This setting is created to give justice to the hard work we invest in our products, and also because we respect our customers' interest and understanding of an advanced product. We are actually trying to achieve this type of atmosphere in all Polestar Spaces."
There is usually a very long list of restrictions at exhibitions and motor shows. The space of each brand's stand is strictly limited both in floor area and in height. Walls have to be placed only in certain positions, so as not to disturb other exhibitors and the overview for visitors. Lights and sound equipment also have to follow regulations.
"Carmakers are competing to maximize their presence with huge screens and dashing design solutions," said Heyden. "Other stands look like overfilled parking lots. We realized quickly that we have to go our own way. I hope we will make people feel something different when they enter our space here. We want people to find a peaceful place where they can concentrate and focus, yet in a relaxed way. A place that provides a similar state of mind as when you enter an art gallery or a church."
At first glance, Polestar's stand in Geneva seems very low key compared to the surroundings.
"The Polestar architecture is based on one rather closed volume," said Heyden. "No big shopping windows, corporate slogans or loud advertising messages. It is perhaps not as inviting as other stands but is designed to intrigue the visitors to look closer. You can say that a visit to Polestar starts already before you enter our space. Then on the inside you experience the space and an atmosphere connected with timeless proportions and light, with the car in the middle."
Polestar intends to stick to this understated expression, whether it's at a big motor show or a busy city street.
"Polestar will never shout out any messages," said Heyden. "We prefer to talk with a more respectful tone of voice. In this aspect, a motor show is not necessarily a natural place for us to be. Therefore, I'm very curious to see visitor's reactions here at the Geneva International Motor Show. We are already looking at taking it further next time, and I hope visitors appreciate and understand our angle on the experience."
The Polestar 1 has made its public debut at the Geneva International Motor Show. The 600 hp electric performance hybrid is a magnet for visitors, who can enjoy the car on display at Polestar's stand. In parallel with the motor show, preparations and technology testing are in full swing. Sofia Björnesson is responsible for holding it all together as the Commercial Project Leader for Polestar 1.
"We have had a lot of focus on the drive train testing lately," said Björnesson, "with many verification tests around the ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive), the sub frame with built-in double electric motors and the planetary gear shift. We have just now tested the torque vectoring in extreme winter conditions in Northern Sweden. We are delighted with the test results so far."
The car on display in Geneva is painted in a specially developed matte gray color.
"Seeing the car here at the Geneva International Motor Show almost gives me goose bumps," said Björnesson. "It's a proud moment and I feel very confident that we will deliver an extraordinary performance car. When we showed the Polestar 1 in Shanghai last year, almost two years before start of production, it was extremely early compared with what you see from other car makers. Still, our calculations have been very much in line with what we anticipated so far. For example, the state-of-the-art chassis. The car will provide the driver with very high predictability."
The running test vehicles at the moment are handmade prototypes, since the first pre-series for test cars from the factory are not planned until later this year.
"This is a normal development for a car project," said Björnesson. "The first series of factory-made cars are planned to arrive after summer. It's what we call the VP-series – Verification Prototype. It's a small number of cars that are made in the factory and intended to be as close as possible to the final product. There are a number of details, for example in the interior, and also software that will be developed and finalized at a later stage. At the moment, we are testing selected technology mounted in custom-made prototypes. Still, this gives us very accurate verification data to work with."
The first ever electronically controlled Öhlins shock absorbers, which constantly monitor the road conditions and are capable of adjusting the stiffness with a reaction time of only two milliseconds, is an example of the advanced technology that has already been tested.
"What you can't get a sense of at an exhibition like this is the driving experience," said Björnesson. "It looks great here, but I'm sure people will be truly impressed when they drive this car later on. The powerful brakes, the advanced shock absorbers, the low center of gravity and the well-balanced weight distribution all contribute to an extraordinary driving experience. I'm already looking forward to showing it to people on the road."