Still coming later this year, pandemic be damne
The Polestar 2, the first all-electric car from the Volvo Car Group, will start at $59,900 when it comes to the United States later this year. Equipped with native Android Automotive, the five-door fastback-style electric car boasts about 408 horsepower and is supposed to get about 275 miles of range per charge. It will be sold in all 50 states, and Polestar says it will announce leasing and financing details “in the near future.”
Options for the China-made car will include a $5,000 “performance pack,” a $4,000 Nappa leather interior, and 20-inch alloy wheels for $1,200. The car will also be available in metallic paint colors for $1,200. The Polestar 2 will be available for purchase online, and the company says that, despite the novel coronavirus pandemic, it will also open up retail showrooms on the West Coast of the US and in New York in late summer 2020, “with additional locations to follow.”
Announced in early 2019, the Polestar 2 is the second car from Polestar, a performance sub-brand that was spun out of Volvo and is now co-owned by the Swedish automaker and its Chinese parent company Geely. While it won’t be cheap, it’s a far more approachable car than the Polestar 1, which was a small-batch high-performance hybrid coupe that cost around $150,000. Conversely, Polestar plans to make “tens of thousands” of Polestar 2s per year.
One of the flagship features of the Polestar 2 is that it will be the first to use Google’s new embedded Android Automotive operating system. While the interface will look quite similar in many ways to Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system, it will be powered by Android 10 and will offer all sorts of Google integrations that go beyond what’s possible with existing Android Auto, which mirrors a simple smartphone interface to a car’s main display. Car companies have used Android-based infotainment systems in the past, but they tended to be hack-y affairs that didn’t have continual support from Google.
The native Android Automotive OS is going to show up in other automakers’ cars, as they continue to try to keep pace with Tesla, which spent the last decade changing how pretty much everyone thinks about in-car infotainment systems and display tech. Beyond Polestar, Google has deals to build Android Automotive into cars made by General Motors and Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Google getting involved means there’s a better fighting chance that the software in new cars isn’t horrible, but it could also change how we interact with our cars.
“What we’re really excited about with the embedded offering for Android in the car is now we can create a single blended system, where you have Spotify and you have your HVAC controls and you have the backup camera and you have Google Maps or Waze, and it’s all one system,” Android Automotive head Patrick Brady told The Verge last year. “It takes advantage of the entire digital surface in the car. And we think we’re going to be able to strike a great balance where it feels naturally integrated into the car.”
Of course, that means both Google and the automakers will wind up with new data that they can try to monetize. GM has already said it will share some anonymized data with Google, according to CNBC, though Google won’t see granular details like how a person drives, or the vehicle’s maintenance needs, according to Reuters.