Volvo’s Polestar division is entering the EV sedan market and it has the Tesla Model 3 in its cross hairs. Should Tesla be concerned? Can the EV market bear another entrant? Does Polestar have what it takes to compete against the hip Tesla brand?
The short answer to all of these questions is, “Yes.”
Tesla should definitely be concerned, especially considering the early interest in the upcoming competitor. Polestar’s rapid rise ever since being purchased by Volvo has caught the attention of many electric vehicle enthusiasts who weren’t expecting a release so soon. The Polestar 1 made a minor splash but its with their all-electric follow up that the automotive world is abuzz.
The teasing image of the fastback tail of the new Polestar 2 has been shared widely across automotive news outlets, mostly for the lack of details on design. What we see is sleek, but more importantly it promises a slightly different but comparable feel as the Model 3. Unlike other competitors, it seems like Polestar isn’t shying away from going directly after Tesla. Whether they’ll be successful or not will depend on the reception it receives compared to the Tesla, but even a poor reception will cut into Tesla’s dominance.
“We are not saying it’s a Tesla killer, we are here to vividly compete with them in the market,” said CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “We will launch Polestar 2 in the second half of 2019 and production will begin around the start of 2020.”
Electric vehicle sales have been skyrocketing this year, making the timing of the Polestar 2 conspicuous. Did the rush it while the waters were hot or is it just convenient for them to be entering the market at a high point? Model 3 sales jumped from a little over 6,000 units in May and June to impressive spikes in July (14,250) and August (17,800). The trend continued until the December, 2018 explosion that saw 25,250 Model 3s leaving showrooms across North America.
The real question is the third one. Does Polestar have what it takes. Tesla has fought the odds to emerge as not only a hip but also a very successful option for those seeking fast, green, luxurious sedans. Polestar has been impressive with their engineering feats so far, which prompted Volvo to rush them into being a full-blown high-performance electric vehicle brand in 2017. The Polestar 2’s entry into the segment will precede the Polestar 3’s attempt to crack the small SUV market in 2022.
Polestar has one major advantage over Tesla. Even though the company is new to the mass production arena, it has the technology, infrastructure, and pre-developed parts that come with decades of Volvo existence.
The company reports its Tesla Model 3 competitor will be comparable in almost every way that counts, including price (likely between $40,000-$55,000), range (300 miles), and horsepower (400 hp). It will also be the first vehicle to include the Google Android HMI with their in-car version of Google Assistant.
The field will get crowded pretty quickly as multiple brands are moving in. The Volvo Polestar 2 gives every early indication it could be a real challenger for a growing market of electric sedan buyers. We’ll find out next year.