2017 Volvo V60 Polestar
If you want what is about to become a retro Polestar without a hybrid powertrain, or electric-only powertrain, you better buy the new 2017 S60 or V60 Polestar, quick.
Henrik Fries, vice president of product strategy and R&D for Volvo's Polestar division told Motor Authority on Monday at a media event in Scottsdale, Arizona, that Polestar's future is all about electrification.
"You will see more electrification. All companies are moving in that direction" Fries said. "You will see both plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars. Performance electrification will take many different types of forms in the future. We will be aiming to spearhead and drive technology inside Volvo."
While Fries wouldn't comment on when we will see our first electrified Polestar, he said the current product plan already spans out to 2022.
For plug-in hybrids, the Polestar treatment won't necessarily mean swapping in larger, more powerful electric motors or changing a battery pack, but rather tuning the internal combustion engine portion of the powertrain to increase power output.
In electric cars, the Polestar treatment could theoretically focus on software tuning, but Fries was quick to say, "We aren't there yet. Volvo doesn't have an electric car, yet."
However, Volvo does plan to have an electric car by 2019 with 250 miles of range or more for a price of $35,000 to $40,000. How soon a Polestar arrives thereafter is yet to be seen.
Those who can't wait for a electrified Polestar can now opt for a Polestar software upgrade on the XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid. The dealer-installed software flash takes output from a stock 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque to 421 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque, all without voiding the warranty. This software tune is simply dialing up the power from the gasoline engine portion of the plug-in hybrid powertrain.
While that might hold us over, forner Volvo R&D boss Peter Mertens said last year that the "90" Series Polestars are coming, and they could have as much as 600 horsepower to take on the Germans. These vehicles would be based on the T8 plug-in hybrid setup with a full Polestar treatment to take power to levels unheard of in factory-built Volvos.
As for enthusiasts' concerns that electric cars are passionless, Fries said, "When we deliver an electric car that you don't buy just because it's a tax deduction, but you buy it because of emotions. Because it's a really fantastic car, then you're home safe."
While electric cars are often fast off the line thanks to instant torque, their silent operation can make them seem soulless. Fries was quick to make it clear that "we don't believe in suggestions of artificial sound." Delivering a visceral experience is a challenge, but that's Polestar's job. Fries loves the passion and sounds that accompany an internal combustion engine. "I get goosebumps when I'm at a NASCAR race," he said.
Fries summed up his division's goal: "Our motto is pure premium performance, and we will always help Volvo push the boundaries."