This week, the premium brand for Volvo, Polestar announced their 2nd generation fully electric car, the Polestar 2.
The car itself is set to be priced at around the same as the Tesla Model 3, making it potentially the first serious alternative, with performance, looks and a price tag that appeals to a broad range of customers in the premium vehicle market.
The Polestar 2 is a five-door fastback body, with dual electric motors and a 78 kWh battery capacity that’s good for a very similar range of around 500 km. So with a similar range, a similar price, it really does look like the Polestar 2 is about to give potential Model 3 buyers, a serious second option.
Most electric cars available in Australia to date have been engineered to favour range, rather than performance, but Polestar are a performance luxury brand, so understand the driving experience needs to be punchy. The all-wheel drive electric powertrain in Polestar 2 produces 300 kW and 660 Nm torque which propels the car from 0-100 km/h in under 5 seconds. In terms of performance, looks like we’ve got a serious contender.
“Polestar 2 is our first fully electric car and first volume model. Everything about it has been designed and engineered with passion and dedication. As an electric performance brand, and through the forthcoming launch of a portfolio of fully electric cars, Polestar is determined to address the world’s air quality challenges. Polestar delivers electric performance cars that are great to own and drive.”Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar.
Now for the reality. Tesla been rolling out recharging infrastructure in the form of their Supercharger network, as well as destination chargers since 2014. In that time they’ve established dozens of supercharger sites and hundreds of destination chargers at hotels, shopping centres etc. This means most people on the east coast live within range of a supercharger to rapidly recharge their vehicle and the network of locations means you can drive from Adelaide to Brisbane.
The challenge for any alternate brand to be competitive is to connect the dots of disparate charging efforts between states, forming more of a patchwork, rather than a seamless blanket of locations.
Polestar says they will answer the important question of charging Polestar 2 by setting up strategic collaborations to give Polestar 2 owners easy and hassle-free access to the world’s largest public charging networks. While that sounds great, the reality is if you could buy this car today, you’d have an uncomfortable time driving it 500 kms only to find out there’s no rapid recharging infrastructure in most places.
The second major issue is the connected nature of the vehicle. One of the most underrated decisions Tesla made early on was to build a SIM card into the vehicle. This enables the user to get features like unlimited Spotify and connect to the vehicle to control it (like Summon), but it also allows Tesla to get telemetry from things like autopilot interventions, helping to grow their data-set and work through edge cases not seen in their own testing.
Polestar are showing off a mobile app that connects to the car, so it’s likely the car also supports a sim card (detail on the limitation on this are not yet available. Possibly the most important use for that SIM card is for Over-the-air updates and no other auto maker to-date has the same commitment to OTA updates that improve the vehicle over the time you own it as Tesla. This should now be expected, especially as autonomous features evolve.
Interestingly the Polestar 2 is one of the first cars in the world to embed an infotainment system powered by Android. The Android backbone provides a solid and adaptable digital environment for apps and vehicle functions to coexist, and brings embedded Google services to a car for the first time – including the Google Assistant, Google Maps with support for electric vehicles and the Google Play Store. Natural voice control and a new 11″ touchscreen display bring the new interface to life.
As cars continue to be the smartest gadgets we own, naturally the humble key and even keyfob are being outdated, replaced by Phone-as-Key technology. This enables car sharing and a more integrated ownership experience, as well as Polestar’s connected services such as pick-up and delivery.
Here’s one instance where Polestar may beat Tesla to market and that’s the idea of subscription-based vehicles. While Tesla are waiting to refine their autonomous vehicles, Polestar seem keen to offer their EVs with current technology to users on a month-to-month subscription.
“We decided to bring something different to the segment. Our avant-garde design has evolved from Polestar 1 into an edgier, bolder statement. We have also designed a standard vegan interior with progressive textiles that will appeal to the forward-thinking audience who will subscribe to Polestar 2.”Maximilian Missoni, head of Design at Polestar, comments:
In common with all Polestar cars, Polestar 2 will only be available for ordering online. The guide purchase price for the launch version of Polestar 2 is around $95,739 (59,900 euros) with subscription pricing to follow at a later date. The Model 3 pricing is expected to
The car is available for pre-order at polestar.com. Production of Polestar 2 begins in early 2020 in China for global markets in both left- and right-hand drive.
This date is incredibly important. Tesla’s Model 3 production of right-hand drive vehicles begins mid-year this year. That means you could pre-order and receive your Model 3, before the Polestar 2 ships. If you’re in need of a new car on a quick timeline, then as nice as the Polestar 2 is, you’ll go buy a Model 3 instead.
The Polestar 2 is an incredibly positive addition to the EV market (when it arrives). That said, there are some serious differences between the offering that means in many people’s eyes, even with similar performance, price and design appeal, the Polestar 2 doesn’t stack up as a viable option to buy over the Model 3.
It’s also probably worth remembering that a single Polestar 1 hasn’t rolled off the production line yet. Personally I think you’ve got to understand that delays are likely to this schedule.
If you missed the online reveal of the car, you can watch it below.