Volvo’s Polestar performance brand is working on a Tesla Model 3 competitor

Volvo’s dedicated performance and luxury division, Polestar, is apparently gearing up to take on the Tesla Model 3. According to a new report from AutoCar in the U.K., Polestar’s next car, the Polestar 2, will compete directly with the Model 3 and sport an all-electric powertrain with a range up to 350 miles and an output of up to 400 horsepower. It will cost 30,000 to 50,000 British pounds ($40,000 to $66,000 U.S. dollars).

The outlet spoke with Jonathan Goodman, Polestar’s chief operating officer, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed recently. Polestar was using the spotlight of the festival to showcase its latest Polestar 1 performance hybrid flagship in the U.K. for the first time.

So far, Polestar reports strong initial interest, with more than 600 deposits taken already that total 135,000 pounds ($177,000 U.S). It features a hybrid gas-electric powertrain serving up 592 horsepower and is due for launch in the U.K. sometime in early 2019. Specific details were not shared.

As the company continues developing, researching, and marketing its latest Polestar 2, it has been learning that the entry-level model promises to be the most successful of the incoming lineup.

“That will represent the lower ‘bookend’ of our showroom range and, for now, it should give us as much access to the volume end of the EV market as we need,” Goodman told AutoCar. “The global electric car market was worth 4 million units in 2017. But it’s quite widely expected to be worth 29 million units by 2025. EV owners will come from all walks of life. So it’s a mistake to assume that, because the cars are electric, you have to make them quirky or futuristic.”

Goodman also stressed Volvo’s rather conservative approach toward building and expanding its electric vehicle lineups. His outlook on the matter sees the potential for the global electric car market. But in the same breath, he cautioned about the ambitiousness of other “established automakers,” saying that launching a subbrand for EVs is OK. But if the expansion includes alternative design, that could be detrimental to the success of a new EV brand for any automaker. That’s because in Goodman’s view, too radical of a design could hurt potential brand interest.

And because current market projections predict that the EV market could be approaching nearly 30 million cars worldwide, electric vehicles might not be as niche as some predict. This in turn pressures automakers to make sure that new electric vehicles of the future are just as easy to use as current vehicles.

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