Polestar 1 hybrid car
Polestar 1. Image credit: Foto VDW/Bigstock.com

Volvo’s upcoming Polestar 2 electric car will offer an industry-leading 350 miles of range, which also exceeds that of most gasoline-powered cars (which are often in the low 300-mile range). The Polestar brand makes high performance cars based on Volvo car designs, but Polestar is now owned and operated by Volvo.

350 miles of range is the longest EV range offered by any major car brand at the moment. The Tesla Model S cars, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, and all the other major car brands are offering less than 300 miles of EV range in that price range (Teslas may be able to achieve over 300 miles under some circumstances.

The 350-mile Volvo Polestar 2 is expected to cost about $40,000, and may produce up to 405 HP. That’s a hell of a bargain (both range, and power-wise) for a $40,000 car. Like the Chevy Bolt, this appears to be another breakthrough for electric vehicles and we may see significantly longer range for the price from other electric vehicle manufacturers soon.

Currently, for under $40,000 you would be limited to 200-230 miles of range per charge, but just a few years ago, electric cars under $40,000 were in the ~100-mile range. Electric cars have been making strides, and 300 to 400-mile range will probably become the norm for electric vehicles in a few years.

One of the largest factors limiting the range and power-to-weight ratio (and hence performance) of electric vehicles is two metrics: The gravimetric energy density (energy-to-weight ratio), and the gravimetric power density (power-to-weight ratio). An electric car battery with a higher energy-to-weight ratio can store more energy than a lesser battery of the same weight.

This translates to a longer driving range per charge. An EV battery with a higher power density can produce more power per kg of its weight. That means that a higher power density battery of the same weight can provide the vehicle with more power, resulting in greater performance. Lithium-ion batteries (most electric vehicles are now powered by these) typically achieve energy densities of 95 to 243 Wh/kg. In other news, Volvo started taking orders for its Polestar 1 hybrid in March.