Polestar responds to weak demand for electric vehicles with new technology and next-generation vehicles | TechCrunch

Polestar this week laid out its vision for the future: The Swedish electric car company, owned by China’s Geely Holding, hopes new technology and next-generation vehicles will spur sales and fuel an era of growth.

The inaugural Polestar Day event in Los Angeles aimed to educate investors and journalists about its potential for a profitable future, in contrast to its present. Just a day earlier, the company revised its outlook, lowering its 2023 delivery target, announcing new investments from Volvo and Geely and telling markets it still needs another $1.3 billion before cash flow breaks even in 2025 debt and equity external financing.

Walking the line between the company’s financial realities and product aspirations allows for greater focus on the activity itself.

“Certainly Polestar Day is of great significance to us to really portray and highlight the convergence of innovations that come together here,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath told TechCrunch on the sidelines of the event.

It’s a hybrid: the company showed off its full future product line, including the Polestar 3, 4, 5, Polestar Precept, Polestar Electric Roadster Concept and Polestar Synergy.nominally brings together a vision for the future and provides investors and journalists with a preview of the upcoming Polestar 3 and Polestar 4.

Image Source: pole star

The focus on upcoming models, ultra-fast charging, autonomous driving sensor integration, future vehicle-to-grid technology, and announcements about manufacturing shows that Polestar is taking all of the above to grow even in the face of headwinds.

The disadvantages are considerable. Adoption of electric vehicles has slowed, especially in the luxury segment. High interest rates, tariff pressure to move production to the United States, economic uncertainty in China and two wars around the world have further hampered the EV industry’s growth.

Polestar, a small maker of luxury high-performance electric cars, is in a tighter position even with big investors like Volvo and Geely. The company has only one model in the U.S. market, the Polestar 2.

With the recent downward revision to global sales for 2023, all eyes are on the Polestar 3 and 4.

Depends on Polestar 3 and Polestar 4

“When we talk about the next 18 months of this company, these products are coming to market, and at the same time, we sit down and make sure that we can achieve this goal in 2025,” said Ingenlath, a cash flow breakeven company. Profitable company. “

Polestar 3 deliveries will begin in the United States in early 2024, and Polestar 4 is about to enter production and will be delivered in 2025.

Ingenlath said the company is counting on the Polestar 3 and 4 to help it achieve its break-even goal by 2025.

“Polestar 3 and 4 are key enablers; they are the heart of the business,” he said, underscoring the company’s focus on price rather than sales.

First test drive: Polestar 3 and Polestar 4

Polestar Day Ride 2023

Image Source: Abigail Bassett

The company is offering the chance to ride in pre-development versions of its upcoming Polestar 3 and Polestar 4 for a 10-minute jaunt through stop-and-go traffic at Santa Monica Airport.

The Polestar 3 is the more “luxurious” and larger of the two cars, with an SUV-like roofline, ample rear seat space and a fully digital cockpit. This is also the first model built by the company on a new platform. The Polestar 3’s back seat is quiet, roomy and comfortable, with plenty of leg and headroom. It comes with air suspension, which provides enough road feel to make you feel connected to the outside world, but not heavy, making it nimble and light on your feet.

There’s a vertical infotainment screen in the center of the dashboard and a driver information screen on the steering column. While you control most of the vehicle’s functions from the main infotainment screen, such as single-pedal mode and different drive modes, controls for the hood, headlights and windshield wipers are located on the joystick within easy reach.

Believe it or not, the Polestar 4 is the SUV coupe in the range with a swooping roofline, There is no rear window. According to the company, this unconventional omission allowed designers to provide more headroom and legroom for rear passengers. The Polestar 4 has a slightly shorter wheelbase than the 3, but from a rear passenger perspective, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic even without a rear window. .

In Polestar 4, the driver’s digital rearview mirror. The sunroof extends back behind the rear passengers’ heads, so even though there’s no glass behind the seats, it doesn’t feel like a coffin. Ambient lighting all around the cabin makes the lack of a rear window almost unnoticeable.

The Polestar 4 also features a large central infotainment screen, but it’s oriented horizontally rather than vertically, and the driver information screen is mounted on the dashboard rather than the steering column. There is no HUD in the Polestar 4, unlike the Polestar 3, which comes with steel spring suspension. This setup makes it feel harsher over potholes and gives rear passengers a undulating and ponderous sense of sportiness.

The technology and ride experience aren’t the surprising parts. Instead, what’s surprising is how excited automotive customers who join TechCrunch are about future vehicles. A customer from Indiana told us that he ordered a Polestar 3 and while on the road, he was so excited about the infotainment screen features that he couldn’t keep his hands off them.

Future batteries, V2G and autonomous driving

Polestar also used its inaugural event to highlight technology partnerships with companies such as Luminar, Mobileye and StoreDot, the battery company Polestar invested in last year.

Most of these technology partnerships, such as the one with lidar company Luminar, are nothing new; the companies have already announced co-working agreement In February this year, it plans to combine LiDAR with Mobileye Chauffeur technology Announced August 2023.

It seems that the focus is not on making new announcements, but on showcasing the capabilities these next-generation vehicles may have.

For example, the Polestar 4 will be equipped with lidar, which will support an advanced driver assistance system that will provide blind self-driving capabilities on the highway, but the system is not yet fully mature.

During the demonstration, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua (who was not in attendance but spoke in pre-recorded remarks) showed video of a Polestar 4 using Mobileye technology to navigate a roundabout, while the vehicle was able to successfully enter traffic, merge into lanes, and exit without driver input. In the case, this was not the smoothest execution. The footage shows the prototype stopping and starting like an uncertain driver as it enters roundabout traffic. Shashua said in the recording that the video was recorded in the final week.

Polestar battery module prototype

Image Source: pole star

Perhaps one of the most interesting companies highlighted at the event was store pointis an Israeli battery company that produces pouch batteries with extremely fast charging or XFC capabilities.

Polaris first Invest in StoreDot In May 2022, it now aims to integrate its so-called “0-100 in 5 minutes” silicon anode battery technology into future electric vehicles.

StoreDot CEO and co-founder Doron Myersdorf attended Thursday’s event to demonstrate a small prototype of XFC battery technology that can charge several batteries to 80% in less than eight minutes.

StoreDot developed the battery, while “major investor and collaborator” Polestar worked with the company to develop the battery chassis and liquid cooling system to keep the fast-charging battery’s temperature below 40 degrees Celsius – a key point for efficient charging. Myersdorf said the technology has been tested for 1,000 fast-charging cycles and said battery degradation was no more severe than that found with slow charging.

“The technology’s slow charging and fast charging are the same, so you basically get a 500,000-mile warranty,” Myersdorf said, noting that the battery won’t die after 1,000 charges. But it can only be charged to 80%. Polestar and StoreDot said they will fully demonstrate the jointly developed battery pack on a Polestar 5 prototype sometime in 2024.

Polestar also announced vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, initiatives in Sweden and California. The company has agreed to be part of a consortium of energy distributors and suppliers, home charging providers, and university researchers to carry out a pilot project utilizing V2G technology and fleet Polestar 3 production in and around Gottenberg, Sweden. In California, Polestar announced that it will participate in a pre-study to develop a V2G technology roadmap for the state. The Swedish program will run for two years starting in 2024, and a pilot study in California will begin in December and last one year.

The technology is still in its early stages, and there are many hurdles to overcome—from legislative battles to infrastructure. However, if V2G technology works as Polestar hopes, it will make Polestar’s new virtual power plant, or VPP, available. Polestar says the cloud-based VPP system will allow Polestar 3 owners to put energy back into the grid when the vehicle is parked – whether at home or in public.

way forward

As the electric vehicle industry continues to shrink, smaller automakers like Polestar will have to move quickly to stay afloat.

Ingenlath said he is optimistic about Polestar’s future.

“We shouldn’t be totally shocked by the electric vehicle market,” Ingenrath said of weak demand for electric vehicles. “I mean, the most important thing is, as a company, how prepared are you to weather this? The low point?” he continued. “We will survive.”

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