From The Editors Technology

Volvo’s Performance Brand Gives First Glimpse of its All-Electric Polestar 2

Polestar, Volvo’s EV performance brand, on Thursday (Jan 3) released the first image of the Polestar 2 – the company’ debut all-electric vehicle, which it believes will give the Tesla Model 3 a run for its money.

While Polestar has promised to reveal the full specifications of this non-hybrid EV during the official unveiling a few weeks from now, it did give us a peek into the car’s potential by releasing a few of its features.

Here’s a bulletized list of whatever has been made known, so far, about this would-be “Tesla killer.”

o Polestar 2 will go into production shortly after the long-range hybrid, the Polestar 1, enters the assembly line later this year, which means we’re probably looking at a 2020 date.

  • It will be a four-door “fastback” body-type car.
  • The performance vehicle’s electric motors will generate about 400 horsepower.
  • The car will be good for 300 miles (about 483 kilometers) on a single full charge.
  • It will sell at a price point similar to that of the Tesla Model 3.
  • Polestar 2 will be the first car to feature the Google Android HMI – the all-new automobile-specific, smartphone-independent version of Google Assistant.

While Polestar continues to play the Tesla Model 3 comparison card, it has somewhat backed out from the “Tesla-killer” narrative it had initially pursued.

“We are not saying it’s a Tesla killer, we are here to vividly compete with them in the market,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath had said in a July 2018 statement.

“We will launch Polestar 2 in the second half of 2019 and production will begin around the start of 2020,” he said.

Speaking to Ward Auto, the Polestar chief had also said that the company saw Tesla and Porsche as its “competitive set.”

Okay, so we don’t know much about the Polestar 2 other than what we’ve discussed above, but we do know a bit about the Google Android HMI feature the car is set to debut with.

Last year, Volvo announced that its next-generation Sensus infotainment system would include a host of Google services, including Google Assistant, Google Maps as well as apps available through the Google Play Store.

“Bringing Google services into Volvo cars will accelerate innovation in connectivity and boost our development in applications and connected services,” Henrik Green – Volvo’s senior VP for research and development – had said at the time.

“Soon, Volvo drivers will have direct access to thousands of in-car apps that make daily life easier and the connected in-car experience more enjoyable,” he said.

The announcement was, however, first made by the two companies at the 2017 I/O Developer Conference.

The collaboration between the automaker and the tech giant will see several Google services and apps getting embedded into Volvo’s next-gen Sensus infotainment system in a way that will allow drivers to use the services independently – no need for a smartphone.

Google Maps will play a key role in new Volvos’ navigation systems, offering users real-time traffic data, map updates as well as proactive route change suggestions – a feature that has already proved its utility on smartphone Google Maps.

The Google Assistant will be as useful an inclusion as any other, providing a central voice interface for future Volvos, which will allow drivers to manipulate in-car functions like air-conditioning, sun-roof and windows, as well as use apps for sending messages and controlling music, using voice commands.

Google Play Store will include a plethora of approved downloadable apps with Google’s affirmation that its screening system will ensure that driver distraction is minimal, and that more can be done from the dashboard than ever before.

The previous version of Volvo’s Sensus ran on a large portrait-oriented touch-sensitive display, integrated into the car’s dashboard, which controlled navigation, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) and media, as well as allowing access to a limited number of apps.

“The Google partnership to be entered into is an important strategic alliance for Volvo Cars,” Green said.

“The Android platform, Google services and Google’s working relationship with app developers in-house and worldwide will help us further improve the Volvo car experience,” he added.

Volvo will, however, continue to develop its own apps and connected services independent of its partnership with Google.

Google’s Android offers a “turnkey” solution to automakers that can use the automobile-specific operating system just like smartphone manufacturers do.

We got a glimpse of the system’s apparent utility at the 2017 I/O, where Google demoed the system on a Maserati.

Not only Volvo, but Audi is also partnering with Google to introduce a similar infotainment system based on Android Nougat 7.0, allowing users access to the same Google Maps, Google Assistant and apps that are found in Android Auto – again, without the need for an Android smartphone.

With the infotainment system not cornering users to use Android devices, more tailored choices can be made available to enhance their in-car experience.

Google also announced a fresh user interface (UI) and new Google Maps features for the Google Auto to make it smarter and more user-oriented.

A new group-messaging feature and a Rich Communication System (RCS) are also being introduced to the Android Auto.

Additionally, third-party integration is being upgraded to include integrated search results, and more, to further enhance user experience.

In an attempt to address security and hacking concerns, Google is also going to increase the frequency of feature and security updates.

Moving back to Volvo’s next-gen Sensus, it’s going to offer a far bigger choice of apps on the Google Play Store than ever before, including thousands of other car-specific apps that can be accessed using the cars’ integrated 4G LTE connectivity.

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