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Inspired Design Meets Performance: Hello Polestar 2

September 29, 2019

Polestar 2: swedish minimalism with a dash of performance.

Hard to believe that Tesla began operations in 2003 and has been a pioneer for EV’s for the past 16 years. Gas prices have gone up and down, climate change is still debated but the benefits of EV’s are finally starting to take hold and gain acceptance.  The early brands such as Tesla, Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are making way for a flurry of new EV makers such as Fisker, Farraday Future, Lucid, and Rivian just to name a few.

Many of these new brands bring with them a tremendous amount of risk. Some may not even see the light of day after losing hundreds of millions of dollars.  It also seems that traditional auto makers are jumping in full steam ahead to meet consumer demand. Audi E-Tron, Mercedes EQ, VW ID are just a few. The problem with traditional brands offering EV’s are the challenges of internal culture, dealership networks and status quo.

Polestar is a new brand not hindered by legacy thinking but leverages the extensive resources of it’s parent company Volvo & Geely.

 

A minimalistic design ethos that oozes skön

Following the recent launch of the Polestar 1, the new Polestar 2 will aim for more of a mainstream audience. The Polestar 2 will initially retail for $55k or $63k for the Launch Edition. The brand will be eligible for the US Federal tax credit of $7500. The launch edition includes the Pilot and Plus packages with an optional Performance package (Öhlins Dual Flow Valves + 20″ Wheels + Upgraded brakes/front Brembo + Gold seat belts + Gold Valve Caps). Optional ventilated Nappa leather interior is also available.

The Polestar 2 will be available in the US in a few select states in Q2 2020. Currently, there is a production ready prototype touring the country. After touring Seattle and California, Polestar 2 will make it’s way to Toronto,  Austin, Boston,  Dallas, Denver, Miami, Montreal, New York, Vancouver, Washington, D.C.

We will be attending the event in Miami and will provide exlusive photos and news about Polestar 2 after our visit. We have heard of conflicting rumors about the US launch due to China tariff’s being imposed. There were initial rumors that this would delay or even prevent the US launch of Polestar vehicles since the vehicles are being manufactured in China. However, Polestar seems to be moving forward with a US launch. They are either confronting margin pressure or hope that the tariff issue will be resolved by then. However, this will likely mean that Polestar takes a less aggressive approach to rolling out to all 50 states quickly.

Rich Performance Heritage

Founded by a racing driver in 1996, precision engineering, tuning and performance are in the DNA of Polestar. The Polestar 2 features 2 electric motors totaling 300 kW generating 408 horsepower and 487 ft-lb of torque. The gives the all-wheel-drive powertrain enough to go from 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds. This is faster than the 5.6 seconds of the Tesla Model 3 Standard but slower than the 3.2 seconds of the Performance Model 3. With Öhlins exhaust and Brembo brakes, the Polestar 2 does indeed seem geared towards high performance.

Solid Range

The Polestar 2 features a 78 kWh battery estimated to provide a range of 275 miles per charge. There is currently no word on whether there will be various battery options available. 275 miles should be adequate for most people. In contrast the standard Model 3 has a range of 240 miles and long range version is 310 miles. Both AC and DC charging capability with DC charging up to 150kW fast charging which should give you 225 miles of charge in about 30 minutes.

Safety inherited from Volvo

There are a plethora of safety features and driver aids standard with Polestar 2. Pilot assist, adaptive cruise, collision warning/mitigation (braking & steering), 360° camera, lane keeping aids, and much more. It seems that EV buyers tend to be more tech oriented in general and more demanding of the latest safety and tech features. One question we will be asking when we visit is whether they will allow for over-the-air updates. 

Truly Global Brand

The EV revolution is happening around the world. In countries like Norway, EV’s outsold regular combustion cars this year. Demand for EV’s in Asia is rising rapidly as well especially in China. For the first half of 2019, China accounted for 57% of all EV sales globally.

The lines are getting more blurred with multi-national firms chasing global demand. The Polestar of today has an interesting background. Volvo utilized a performance tuning racing division named Polestar to launch a new brand specifically focused on EV’s. The racing division was then renamed to Cyan Racing. Volvo has gone through a few rounds of various owners. From 1999-2010, Volvo was owned by Ford. The synergies never materialized and there seemed to be a lack of innovation and progress during this period. Then the brand was acquired by the Chinese company Geely Holding Group in 2010. From an external observation, it appears that Geely has been willing to invest heavily in Volvo and has also given the Volvo management team a significant amount of leeway in terms of product innovation and design.

The recent design overhaul and more efficient and streamlined platforms has led Volvo to a brand resurgence and numerous accolades.

 

Polestar opened their manufacturing facility on August 27, 2019 in Chengdu, China. Initial production will focus on the limited Polestar 1. The facility is a Gold Certified LEED facility with sustainability and design at its core. The facility is simply stunning inside and out and a testiment to minimalistic Swedish design paired with quality finishes and subtle craftsmanship.

It is clear that Geely was willing to make a substantial investment into the Polestar manufacturing facility and allowed the Swedish leadership team to drive the design.

Locating their main manufacturing facility in China makes sense considering China will likely be the single largest market for Polestar. 

The Panda in the Room

While it makes sense to manufacture Polestar vehicles in China, doing so brings with it a certain stigma as well as business risk. Most people around the world associate China with cheap labor, poor regulations and low quality. This reputation is well deserved. As China grew from a poor developing country, there was a tendency to cut corners to reduce costs. However, times have changed significantly and people underestimate the influence of the managing company in directing quality, labor practices and sustainability.

Quality is relative

A common misconception regarding quality is that it can’t be controlled. In fact, quality can be well defined and monitored. Many top brands including Apple, Ray Ban, Prada, Mulberry and many more. It is up to the brand owner to define the materials, process, QA and testing.

Even for a Chinese company trying to build a quality product such as BYD, there will be temptations to compromise and not truly understand the long term branding impact while focusing on short-term profitability. I am actually quite confident that a global quality brand such as Polestar/Volvo will be able to drive great quality in manufacturing. They are a customer brand at heart and understand the importance quality plays in that brand promise. If the Chengdu facility is any indication, quality will be top-notch.

Tariff Twist

Another issue with manufacturing in China has to do with the recent political tensions between the US and China. With the continued back-and-forth between US and China in this escelating trade war, one of the tactics being proposed is a 5-25% increase in auto tariffs. Most are hopeful some sort of deal with China will get finalized and we can begin to undo these tariffs but that does not seem likely to happen this year. So much anti-China sentiment has been built up in the media, even if a Democrat wins the white house next year, it may be difficult to appear to concede to China. Talks of tariffs may seem dull but indeed may be a major factor in how well Polestar does in the US. If Tariffs were unreasonable, there is likely plenty of demand in the rest of the world to build up momentum while all this eventually gets settled.

 

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About The Author

David Giacomini

Entrepreneur, inventor and passionate about marketing & branding. This blog is an opportunity to share thoughts on innovative technology, EV's, sustainable energy, tech gadgets and all things electric. Enjoy.