Polestar reveals its Tesla Model 3 competitor
Just before the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, Polestar, revealed its next model called Polestar 2. It is the company’s first fully electric, higher volume premium car designed to compete with Tesla’s Model 3, with many similar features and functions. The electric performance car brand joint venture of Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding launched in 2017 with the Polestar 1, a low-volume, plug-in hybrid-electric GT with 600 hp (447 kW) and 1000 N·m (738 lb·ft), and a claimed longest electric-only range of 150 km (93 mi). After Polestar 2, the company is promising that Polestar 3 will join the portfolio as a fully electric performance SUV.
“We decided to bring something different to the segment,” said Maximilian Missoni, Head of Design at Polestar, said of the Polestar 2 at its launch in late February. “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.”
The electric car is based on Volvo Car Group’s adaptable Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform that also underpins the more conventional Volvo XC40 crossover. Design-led features include Polestar’s now-signature frameless side mirrors and 84-pixel smart LED headlights that can adjust lighting around up to five cars in front. (U.S. and Canada will get standard LED headlights due to legislative restrictions.) The rear lighting blade with 280 LEDs for a choreographed sequence when a driver approaches. Driver proximity sensing enables a welcome lighting sequence and an illuminated Polestar logo reflected onto the panoramic glass roof. Aerodynamic refinement of the car was a focus, with outside rearview mirror volume reduced 30% by integrating glass with housing, claimed Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer of Polestar.
The all-wheel-drive electric powertrain features a 150-kW, 330-N·m (244-lb·ft) electric motor per axle for total output of 300 kW and 660 N·m (487 lb·ft), for 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration in less than 5 s. The standard chassis can be enhanced by a Performance Pack with Öhlins dampers, Brembo brakes, and unique 20-in forged wheels—and Polestar-signature gold seat-belt, brake-caliper, and valve-cap performance visuals. Standard leather-free, Weave Tech “vegan” seats are 30% lighter, saving 4 kg (8.8 lb) per car.
The two electric motors and a long-range 78-kW·h battery capacity (China gets a 72-kW·h unit) enables a targeted range of 500 km (310 mi) on the WLTP (Europe) and NEDC (China) test cycles, 275 mi (443 km) EPA rated for the U.S. The battery pack’s flat pouch cells enable easy pack scaling in a very compact way, according to Ingenlath. The long-range, 27-module battery pack has 324 cells in 12 modules integrated into the floor, and surprisingly double stacked in areas like the central tunnel and under the rear seat to conform to the CMA platform. The assembly gets under-battery cooling plates and a protective case with an aluminum base and steel lid that adds 35% to chassis torsional stiffness. It also is said to improve the car’s noise, vibration, and harshness levels, with road noise reduced by 3.7 dB compared to the base chassis.
The company is setting up strategic collaborations to give owners easy access to the world’s largest public charging networks, with a connected digital solution available both in-car and on mobile devices. Charging speeds will be up to 150 kW DC and 11 kW (three phase) AC.
Polestar says its new car is the first in the world to embed Google’s Android for infotainment. The backbone provides the digital environment for apps and vehicle functions to coexist, and brings embedded Google services including Google Maps with support for electric vehicle ownership, Google Assistant with fast-learning natural voice control, and the Google apps from the Play Store—but an Apple iPhone will connect, assured Ingenlath. The human-machine interface is handled by an 11-in touch screen in portrait mode, which he claims is best for navigation maps and music lists.
As with Tesla’s Model 3, the Polestar 2 uses “phone-as-key” technology, with four corner Bluetooth antennas providing better sensing precision of driver approach, for cabin preparation, a more integrated ownership experience, connected services such as pickup and delivery, and car sharing. Enlarged instrument cluster graphics allow the driver to easily see charging status and range before entering the car.
Polestar 2 will be the first production car with advanced driver assistance systems—including standard pilot assist, collision avoidance, and connected safety—from Zenuity, the joint-venture between Volvo and supplier Veoneer for ADAS/autonomous driving software. For the car, Zenuity's ADAS software stack is integrated with Veoneer's sensors and active safety products—ADAS ECU, front radar, and four-generation monovision cameras with algorithms using deep-learning technologies developed by Veoneer.
"We are proud that Zenuity delivers its first production ADAS software system to Polestar—and we are equally proud to provide our active safety products including the new generation monovision camera system," says Jan Carlson, Chairman, President and CEO at Veoneer.
As with Polestar 1, the new car will only be available for online ordering, with pre-ordering now open at polestar.com. The Polestar 2 range will start at a price of €39,900, but for the first 12 months of production, the 300-kW AWD launch edition is €59,900 (German market and local taxes). The U.S. launch edition is $63,000, less the $7500 federal incentive, for $55,500. China and subscription pricing comes later. Production begins in February 2020 in China for global markets in both left- and right-hand drive.
In conjunction with the car launch was a reveal of a new Polestar Explore app for an end-to-end digital customer experience. The app houses car information, a Polestar 2 configurator, and the ability to place pre-orders and deposits. The choice between a Polestar subscription or purchase will launch closer to the start of production in early 2020.
After its launch just before the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show in March, the company will take the new car on a global roadshow in Europe, North America, and China throughout 2019. An urban network of soon-to-be-opened Polestar Spaces (60 by 2020) that will provide physical viewing and test drive opportunities in centrally located retail environments. Initial launch markets include China, the U.S. (California), Canada, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. Other markets are under consideration for future expansion.