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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The first crossover from Swedish electric vehicle startup Polestar is a coming of age for the Volvo affiliate.
Whereas the brand’s first mainstream model — the Polestar 2 sedan — represents Volvo DNA, the Polestar 3 is a clean sheet for the automaker.
The midsize Polestar 3, revealed at an event here, is built on a new all-electric platform, sports dual motors and has an estimated EPA range of up to 300 miles. It will arrive at U.S. stores late next year and start at $85,300, including shipping.
Polestar’s U.S. CEO, Gregor Hembrough, told Automotive News the U.S. will be the largest single market for the Polestar 3, with North America accounting for about 30 percent of global sales.
“We now enter into the largest segment in North America, with the newest offer on the market,” Hembrough said on the sidelines of the launch event. “The luxury SUV segment arguably is one of the most revered, most sought after, and we’re really the competition place.”
The Polestar 3 will be an accelerant for the brand’s market share.
“This is our most critical product launch yet,” Hembrough told Automotive News. The Polestar 3 will “significantly boost throughput for our retailers.”
According to a previous Polestar investor presentation, the automaker expects to sell 24,000 of the midsize crossovers globally next year, increasing to 67,000 in 2024 and 77,000 in 2025.
New Jersey dealer Matthew Haiken described the new product as the brand’s “bread and butter” model.
“The United States is an SUV market,” said Haiken, CEO of Polestar Short Hills. “People love the Polestar 2, but many prefer more room.”
Even though the Polestar 3 won’t arrive in the U.S. for more than a year, Haiken already has nearly 100 hand-raisers for it.
“Once the car’s revealed, we’ll convert them from hand-raisers to deposit holders and hopefully build up a great order bank,” he said.
The crossover will also be Polestar’s first U.S.-made model. Polestar 3 production will begin at Volvo Cars’ Chengdu, China, factory, but U.S. production is scheduled to start at Volvo’s Ridgeville, S.C., plant in the first quarter of 2024.
Domestic production will shorten delivery times in what is expected to be the Polestar 3’s largest market, and it will position future Polestar models to qualify for a federal $7,500 EV tax credit.
The Polestar 3 is at the vanguard of a fleet of models, including a sportier, coupelike crossover that is expected stateside in 2024.
The first crossover arrives at a pivotal moment for Polestar, which went public in the summer after merging with blank-check company Gores Guggenheim.
The Polestar 3 is a “difference-maker” for the young brand, said Polestar dealer Garth Blumenthal, CEO of Unstoppable Automotive Group in California.
“It will provide a more significant volume proposition for dealers.”
While company executives benchmark the brand against Porsche, Blumenthal sees the Polestar 3 also pulling interest from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover and Lexus customers.
Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at EV subscription startup Autonomy, said the utility vehicle segment is “where the profitability lies” in EVs. He said the Polestar 3’s “distinctive design and elaborate safety features” will appeal to early adopters and an affluent client base.
Blumenthal said Polestar is wise to bring its flagship crossover to market early.
“You’ve got to make a statement and let people know, ‘Look, we are capable of building not only a beautiful SUV but also high-end quality,’ ” he said.
Starting at the top end of the market makes financial sense and helps Polestar pay for product development to come.
“As the economy turns a little bit, the higher-end segment of the market is less affected,” Blumenthal said.
The Polestar 3 is a fastback in crossover clothing — its swoopy silhouette emphasizes propulsion rather than cargo capacity.
The new model offers a crossover’s higher riding position but in a low-to-the-ground package designed to maximize aerodynamics.
An air duct integrated into the leading edge of the hood acts like a wing — accelerating the air passing underneath it and pulling the air stream down onto the car. This effect reduces turbulence and boosts power efficiency.
Meanwhile, rear aero blades act like winglets on aircraft to reduce wind resistance.
“Air is stubborn,” Polestar design chief Maximilian Missoni told Automotive News earlier. “There are not many ways to try to trick it.”
At launch, the Polestar 3 will feature a rear-biased dual-motor powertrain and torque vectoring via a dual-clutch system on the rear electric motor.
The debut model delivers 483 hp with an optional Performance Pack that provides an additional 27 hp.
The vehicle’s CATL-made battery, composed of 204 prismatic cells packed into 17 modules, delivers 107 kilowatt-hours of usable power.
A heat pump boosts battery efficiency, using waste heat from the inverter, electric motor and high-voltage battery to heat the interior.
Adaptive dual-chamber air suspension and active dampers allow the Polestar 3 to switch between comfort and firm suspension dynamics while adjusting to road conditions once every two milliseconds.
This enables the vehicle to “transform from a comfortable cruiser to a sharp, agile performance car in less than the blink of an eye,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said.
While Polestar seeks to differentiate itself from Volvo in design and performance, the automaker carries over safety tech that will feature in Volvo’s next-generation electric crossover.
The Polestar 3 relies on a suite of onboard radar modules, external cameras and ultrasonic sensors to create a protective cocoon for its occupants.
Radar sensors can detect submillimeter movements inside the vehicle and alert the driver of a child or pet left behind. The vehicle’s climate control can kick on to prevent heatstroke or hypothermia.
Meanwhile, cameras monitor the driver’s eyes for early signs of distracted driving and can trigger warning messages, sounds and an emergency stop function, if necessary.
And rather than hide the vehicle’s outward-facing sensors, Polestar’s designers highlight them in a Smart Zone integrated into the crossover’s closed grille.