Polestar 2 Debut: China’s Response to the Tesla Model 3

Polestar, Volvo’s former performance division (which parent company Geely insisted be spun off as its own electric car brand), announced its second automobile on Wednesday. Whereas the Polestar 1 was a 600-horsepower hybrid coupe, Polestar 2 adds a set of rear doors and does away with internal combustion altogether.

For all the “Tesla fighters” out there, this one comes the closest to giving the Model 3 a run for its money. With a targeted range of 275 miles, accomplished via a 78-kilowatt-hour battery pack structurally integrated into the vehicle’s floor, Polestar 2’s in the sweet spot for range. But it also happens to be the correct shape (five-door fastback) and price to ensure its gets stuck in Elon Musk’s tastefully shorn hair. 

The launch version of Polestar 2 will cost $68,000 (59,900 euros) and should be followed by a subscription service and more-affordable variants next year — with the lowest coming in around $45,000. That’s roughly where the Model 3 lives, making it glaringly evident that the brand was taking notes on Tesla’s “entry-level” EV during the 2’s development.

While the Polestar hasn’t proven itself to be the better car, the company claims 408 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque from a dual-motor setup. That’s on par with the Model 3 Performance, but questions remain in regards to acceleration. Polestar says the 2 should boast a 0-to-62 mph blast of “less than 5 seconds,” but we know the top-tier Tesla is capable of the same in about 3.5 seconds. Its mid-range, AWD variant makes the dash in around 4.5 seconds.

Perhaps Polestar is just being modest.

However, even if it doesn’t turn out to be quite so fast as its main rival, there are other reasons shoppers might take an interest. Back in 2017, Google announced it was working on a native version of Android for use in automobiles, signing Volvo as one of its earliest adopters. The Polestar 2 will be one of the first vehicles to implement it, and the company is positively beaming over the opportunity to have one-upped the competition on technology.

From Polestar:

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-inch touch screen display bring the new interface to life.

Interestingly, the brand underplayed its best feature — as this version of Android can be updated remotely by Google or Polestar to keep it fresh. One of the biggest gripes with modern vehicles is how quickly their infotainment systems become dated. Now Google can keep updating features while automakers worry about slick designs and tailoring the interface to match their brand.

However, if you don’t care about that or find the whole idea of automotive connectivity unsettling, Polestar plans to offer enviable hardware through its Performance Pack. The bundle adds Öhlins dampers, Brembo brakes, and unique 20-inch forged wheels — as well as Polestar’s signature gold seat belts, brake calipers, and valve caps. Make no mistake, though — the company intends this to be a mass-market vehicle.

Whether or not that’s feasible is up for debate. Since the car is to be manufactured in China, home to Geely’s headquarters, there could be trouble getting it to the United States. But Polestar says it wants to see the 2 sold in China, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium as it considers other markets.

Pre-orders are open at the manufacturer’s website now, and production of the Polestar 2 is scheduled to commence in early 2020.

[Images: Polestar]

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