In its five years as an independent carmaker, Polestar has put two vehicles into production and announced the delivery schedule of four additional vehicles. The latest, the Polestar 6, is an electric roadster that due to going on the road in 2026. It’s an impressive pace for a new company.
While some of that success can be attributed to the design and performance of the vehicles, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath understands that the company will need to offer more than just beautiful metal on four wheels. Today, he’s thinking about automated driving technology, bi-directional charging, and other features.
On the sidelines of the annual Quail car meeting during Monterey Car Week, Ingenlath told londonbusinessblog.com that design has always been an important part of the brand. (And they should, Ingenlath was a car designer before he took the helm of Polestar.) For example, the success of the latest generation Volvo XC90 and XC40 (Volvo is a parent company of Polestar), showed that Scandinavian design could succeed.
Today, the company is looking far beyond aesthetics as it plans its aggressive rollout.
For Ingenlath, the vehicles are more than just a way to get around the city.
“The mobility question is that people are far too fixated on the use of their car. I mean, that is, of course people have to become a lot more flexible,” Ingenlath said.
It might make more sense to use other modes of transportation to get around the city, but it does lead to the dreaded stationary vehicle. Mobility startups have long lamented the wasted time and money spent on vehicles just sitting around.
That’s not how Ingenlath sees it. He sees value in the parked EV.
“The battery we have in it will be a critical part of the energy solution for the future because you need it as a buffer,” he noted, pointing to the Polestar O2 Concept that will eventually become the Polestar 6 Roadster.
The company has announced that vehicle-to-charge (also known as two-way charging) is coming to their vehicles. Ingenlath told londonbusinessblog.com it will be available on Polestar’s next-generation vehicles.
A Polestar would send energy back to the grid (potentially lowering the owner’s electricity bill) to help maintain the integrity of the system during peak usage. This is especially relevant when the house has solar panels and generates more electricity than the house uses. The car would also be a backup battery during power outages.
While there’s a desire to hoard that sun-generated energy for yourself, Ingenlath sees this more as a community solution.
“We have to feed the grid and we can’t all isolate ourselves and become such an isolated unit,” he said. “We have to work on that together.”
Top-down automated driving
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of a robust public transport system and they still have to commute to work.
For them, the vehicles will eventually provide some sort of automated driving, Ingenlath said.
“Our cars in the future should be able to enable the kind of control and driving experience, but at the same time have the comfort function of switching off (as a driver) and becoming a more integrated part of an autonomous driving,” said Ingenlath .
The upcoming Polestar 3 SUV will have a lidar sensor (as well as radar and cameras) to support a hands-free driver assistance system.
While true autonomous driving is probably still years away for consumer vehicles, Polestar equips its vehicles with multiple sensors to help see it on the road under different conditions.
What’s in a name
“I’ve seen too many painful naming processes in the auto industry to ever get into it.”
Unlike Volvo, which announced that its future vehicles will have names instead of alphanumeric names, Polestar is sticking to its numerical nomenclature.
Ingenlath likes to call the vehicles what they are. For example the Polestar 6 roadster. Plus, he notes that once you come up with a name, there’s always the possibility it infringes on another company and frankly, he doesn’t like that kind of headache.
Instead, the CEO envisions a world where Polestars not only impress other drivers on the road with their design, but also help power the grid at home. Auto company CEOs typically don’t recommend leaving a car at home for the good of society.
Ingenlath’s vision of Polestar has resonated in the market; perhaps his vision of community-based energy solutions will be too.