When Google meets Volvo: Can Polestar 2 beat Model 3?

According to foreign media reports, Volvo’s first new luxury electric car Polestar 2 recently launched in the US market. Some media were invited to test drive this electric car equipped with Google’s Android Automotive system. Overall, with the support of Google’s system, Polestar 2’s driving experience is very good, and overall it is better than the Tesla Model 3, the best-selling electric car in the US market .

A few days ago, the author was invited to test drive Volvo’s new luxury electric car Polestar 2. From Polestar’s new image store in Midtown Manhattan to the Storm King Art Garden about an hour’s drive north of the Hudson River, the round-trip distance is nearly 200 kilometers, which is the most beautiful section in New York State.

But Polestar 2 is not an ordinary electric car. This is the first electric car fully controlled by Google’s system. The localized Android car operating system controls everything from radio, air conditioning to navigation. Passengers can even turn on the seat heater with Google Assistant: “Hey, Google, my ass is so cold.”

Overall, even as an ordinary electric car, driving the Polestar 2 feels good. The power output of the electric motor of the car is very good, there is no frustration of acceleration, and the whole process is very smooth. The car has the right grip and precise steering. The on-board central touch screen is large and easy to navigate, creating an intuitive but not distracting user experience. The advanced driver assistance system is completely different from Tesla Autopilot, but it is fully capable of road driving. The interior is minimal, but not overly arrogant like electric cars such as Tesla.

Polestar is not a household name, but Volvo hopes to increase the reputation of this subsidiary in the process of competing with Tesla. But if it really hopes to catch up with the Model 3, the best-selling electric car in the US market, with the help of Polestar, it needs to continue its efforts. Currently, Polestar’s first batch of electric cars are shipped to the US market from a Chinese manufacturing plant.

In 2016, Polestar was spun off from Volvo. Since then, the company has repositioned itself as a brand that only produces electric cars. Polestar is jointly owned by Volvo and Geely, headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, and assembly line in Chengdu.

The predecessor of the Polestar 2 was a hybrid Polestar coupe. It was launched in 2017. The front axle is equipped with a four-cylinder engine and the rear axle has two electric motors, which can generate 600 horsepower in total. The price of this car is 155,000 US dollars, and currently only 1,500 units are produced worldwide, of which 150 are in the North American market.

Polestar is expected to launch a new model later next year: the compact SUV Polestar 3, which is based on Volvo’s new SPA2 all-electric platform. The Polestar’s concept car implies that this car will be more aesthetically designed.

Polestar 2 is the first electric car launched by Volvo Car Group, and it also gives us a glimpse of how Volvo is advancing the electric car business. Polestar 2 is equipped with a 78 kWh battery pack and has a cruising range of 470 kilometers; the maximum output power is 408 horsepower, the acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometers is less than 5 seconds, and the starting price is 59900 US dollars.

The Polestar 2 in the picture looks very big, even a bit bulky. But in reality, the entire car is actually very compact. In terms of length, it is shorter than the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Nevertheless, the appearance is still very beautiful.

The lighting system is also very cool. Polestar is equipped with the usual “Thor’s Hammer” headlights in the Volvo product line. The rear of the car is a full-angle surround LED light, which gives a sense of the future as a whole.

The interior of Polestar 2 also fully fits this design concept. The car is equipped with a vegan fabric upholstery, and Nappa leather is also available as an option. In addition, users can also add high-performance packages, metallic paint and 20-inch rims, which is the maximum configuration adjustment allowed by Polestar.

In addition, Polestar 2 also has borderless rearview mirrors, panoramic sunroofs, and touch lights designed for rear passengers. The most important thing is Google’s Android Automotive car system.

Polestar 2 is also a car that can be driven with only a mobile phone. Once seated, the driver only needs to close the door, press the brake pedal, and press the shift to move forward.

The author encountered heavy rain during the return trip from the test drive. In severe weather, you need to concentrate on driving. At this time, having a fully functional and accurate voice system comes in handy. The Google Assistant built into Polestar 2 is the best.

“Hey, Google, play podcasts.”

Since the author did not enter his Google account, there is no data or personal preferences on the car. Therefore, Google Assistant called the current most popular blog program “Joe Logan’s Experience”, but this did not meet the appetite.

“Hey, Google, play a song by the Ramones.”

The on-board system started to play “Blitzkrieg”. I stepped on the pedal and the car accelerated forward. This is familiar to anyone who has driven an electric car before. But this joy is extremely short-lived, because everyone on the road drives carefully. The author cautiously released the pedal and the car decelerated automatically without hitting the brake at all.

This is Polestar’s “single pedal mode”-depress the pedal to accelerate or cruise; release the pedal brake. When the pedal is released, the kinetic energy recovery system that can charge the battery starts to start. The level of kinetic energy recovery braking and the weight and feel of the single pedal mode can be adjusted in the vehicle settings.

Without a doubt, the best part of Android Automotive is the level of speech recognition. The speech recognition of most vehicles is very bad, mainly because auto companies lack data sets and cloud computing capabilities, while technology giants such as Amazon and Google use their huge capabilities in the corresponding fields to improve the language understanding elements in machine learning.

In recent years, major automakers such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW have introduced powerful voice assistants that can provide in-depth control of vehicle functions. But most car owners prefer the voice assistants they are already familiar with, such as the voice assistants they frequently use at home or on their smartphones, rather than the voice assistants specifically designed by car manufacturers.

Automobile companies often want to keep a certain distance from large technology companies to prevent them from taking advantage of the lucrative customer data streams on cars. But Volvo believes that by integrating Google’s system, it may be possible to sell more cars. Starting next year, Volvo will add the Android Automotive system to its product line and encourage developers to develop custom applications.

The author is not an Android user and has never used an Android phone, so I am not very familiar with Google Voice Assistant. But I found that when driving Polestar 2, the presence of the voice assistant is very useful for navigation, air conditioning, and music selection. People in the car can reduce the volume by speaking, turn on the seat heater, and ask about the battery level, all without having to move their fingers. It is worth mentioning that Google’s voice assistant has never misunderstood what is said.

However, the powerful voice recognition function is not only a novelty, but also a key factor in reducing driver distraction. While staring at the road, I can switch between direction, temperature and music playback. This makes the author a better driver and reduces the possibility of distraction when I turn. Smart phones and digital infotainment systems will attract a lot of touches or clicks, which are obviously distracting, and technology companies need to think of better ways to alleviate this problem.

It can be said that Polestar is one of the best electric cars I have ever driven. Polestar said that it does not want to sell more than Tesla Model 3. Personally, Polestar 2 is better than Model 3. It is fast, has a long endurance, and has a good driving experience, using enough technology to make a deep impression.

The author finally cannot help asking: “Hey, Google, when can I drive this car again?”

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