When the 1 rolls off the line in mid-2019 (pre-orders are open now), it'll be the only gas-powered car Polestar will ever release -- all models after that will revolve around pure electric power. The first EV in the mix will be the Polestar 2, a mid-sized model meant to tackle the Tesla Model 3 in late 2019, while the Polestar 3 will be an "SUV-style" electric ride. In that light, the 1 is really just a test run that helps Polestar find its footing before it becomes an electric-only badge.
As it stands, Polestar hopes to break ground beyond the car technology itself. Like its sibling brand Lynk & Co., it's veering away from conventional ownership. You'll order your car online, and drive on a 2- to 3-year "all-inclusive" subscription that covers service and renting alternate vehicles. Think of it as a truly comprehensive lease. Moreover, you can use your phone both as a car key and as a gateway to concierge services. There will be physical showrooms (Polestar Spaces), but Volvo is taking a cue from Tesla and won't actually have lots full of cars for you to buy.
It's not shocking that Polestar would go this route. Like many automakers, it's preparing for the possibility that ridesharing and self-driving cars will reduce the need for ownership. And of course, subscriptions give Polestar a constant source of revenue where it might lose out if you rely on third-party garages or make your last car payment. It's betting that generations familiar Netflix and Spotify will prefer the hassle-free nature of an all-you-can-eat service, even if it costs more than you'd otherwise pay.
Update: Polestar estimates that the car would be worth €130,000 to €150,000 (about $153,000 to $177,000) if you had the option to buy it outright... which you don't. It's not completely ruling out the possibility of sales, but any decision on that would come closer to launch.