Article

Polestar: Sustainable Redefines Luxury

Ben Parker

"Sustainable Redefines Luxury" as they say with the Polestar 2 which weighs in at a not so frightening $59,000 (starting price). The car supposedly is available at the end of this year (2020) as well. A five door hatchback that's made eco-friendly from the ground up with a focus on design.

Credit Polestar

Article Highlights

Polestar is probably the most exciting car brand of 2020. I’m not sure if there’s another car that gets me drooling as much as the Polestar 2, from the inside out that car is a thing of beauty. On multiple occasions, I’ve caught myself on the Polestar website configuring myself a car that I’ll never own. Just like I did when Bugatti had that configurator on their website back in 2006. A guy can dream though, right? After not being able to get the car or the brand out of my head I realized I didn’t really know where Polestar came from and what makes their cars so special.

An Abbreviated History


Under its first name “Flash Engineering”, Polestar was born to build a racecar to compete and win the Swedish Touring Car Championship in 1996. The driver was Jan “Flash” Nilsson who drove the Volvo 850. The success they found in winning the first and second year led them to take their car to the international venue. Nilsson actually sold his half of the business to Christian Dahl in 2004. Dahl was responsible for the name change from Flash Engineering to Polestar which he said was to “represent the frozen north of Sweden with the pole star and also playing on the connection to pole position and star of racing”. 


It wasn’t until 2009 that the brand was taken under the Volvo wing officially as a brand partner with the new name Polestar Performance. They were moderately successful to this point, but Robert Dahlgren won the drivers championship in a Polestar C30 which led them to grow in business with Volvo for more consumer vehicles. In 2015 Volvo ended up buying Polestar Performance outright. In 2017 Volvo announced that its Polestar brand would now only produce high-performance electric and hybrid vehicles and that it would be its own brand.

A 78kw power battery pack provides up to 500km of range. A dual-motor provides 300kw of power, making this a true electric performance car. The silhouette of this car feels like an elegant step away from the blobs of the late twenty teens.

Credit Polestar

Credit Polestar

In the metaphorical dark night sky that is the automotive industry, the bright Polestar leads us on into our automotive future.

Polestar’s focus is on design


Polestar’s focus is on design. The CEO of the company is a designer. Thomas Ingenlath is not only just the CEO, but he’s also still the head of design at Volvo and a big reason why Volvo has been making the best looking cars in recent years. Polestar is making cars that inevitably will look good a year from now, 2 years from now, or 60 years from now. This is a key part of their design ethos Max Missoni, the designer of the Polestar 1 said, “What I think I’m quite good at is finding that balance that makes people excited that makes people fall in love, that makes people come back every day and still love it for a long period of time.”


In my opinion car companies have done an absolutely terrible job at creating digital interfaces since they were put into cars. Essentially all of them have been bad. Proof of this is the fact that Apple Car Play has been so successful. Apple Car Play is genuinely really good, but when you think about it, the technology to make something that functions like that has been around for about 10 years, yet it’s taken 10 years for it to become a reality, let alone an affordable one. Similarly, when Tesla debuted with its huge touch screen it seemed like finally a car company talked to a UX designer. 


I digress, but I’m laddering up to the fact that Ingenlath is very aware of this problem, that user interfaces in cars need feel as good as the phones in our hands or the computers on our laps. I (obviously) haven’t used the Polestar’s infotainment system but just look at it. The in-car software is open source, so no longer will we have a navigation system that looks dated when we drive off the dealer lot. I think what Polestar recognizes is that priorities of consumers have changed over the last 20 or so years when choosing a car. What matters to consumers now is comfort, looks, and something that they can feel less environmental guilt about when they go to bed at night.


Recently revealed, the Polestar Precept.

Credit Polestar

Sustainability 


It’s hard for me to envision a world where Fiat-Chrysler, or General Motors can become an environmentally sustainable company. Where once again Polestar is miles ahead. The process by which these cars are made is so intentional, Esquire details in their article that the manufacturing plant in Chengdu, China has designed to be the most sustainable plant in the country -- of course. 


The car’s exteriors are carbon fiber and the interior is made from “Bcomp’s natural fiber composite” which reduces plastic content. The seats aren’t leather, they’re 3d-knit fabric from “100% recycled PET bottles, interior plastics infused with waste cork products and carpets derived from recycled fishing nets”. The benefit from this that you don’t think of at first blush is that this cuts back a ton of weight from the interior of the vehicle. So not only is this more sustainable but in fact, you’re gonna go faster because of it. This is the car company we needed all along.


Credit Polestar

Subscription Model


Polestar has planned that with the Polestar 1 you can essentially pay for a subscription to this car. Volvo has also begun to move to this model. I can already hear the words forming as I’m typing S-U-B-S-C-R-I-P-T-I-O-N F-A-T-I-G-U-E. I can hear those words because I’m saying them as well. This is where I start to wonder if maybe Volvo/Polestar knows something that I don’t. A lot of people are speculating that in this self-driving future that we’re rapidly approaching that none of us will really own cars outright. We’ll all just pay monthly for access to transportation whether that’s a Polestar 1, or whether that’s Canoo (the autonomous ride-sharing startup) or potentially Waymo, or even Google. I’m not sure if I quite buy that we’re at that point. Plus I would just like to own a Polestar outright. We’ll see, I mean this future could be closer than I anticipated. Polestar seems to be ahead of the curve on most things, maybe this included. 


What Polestar is up against essentially is a bunch of decades-old car brands that frankly have not been able to reinvent themselves and are panickingly trying to adapt for a future of self-driving electric vehicles. In the metaphorical dark night sky that is the automotive industry, the bright Polestar leads us on into our automotive future.

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