In its five years as a stand-alone automaker, Polestar has put two vehicles into production and announced a delivery schedule for four additional vehicles. The latest, the Polestar 6, is an electric roadster should hit the road in 2026. That’s an impressive pace for a new company.
While some of that success can be attributed to the vehicles’ design and performance, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath understands the company will have to offer more than pretty metal on four wheels. These days, automated driving technology, two-way charging and other features are on his mind.
Speaking on the sidelines of Quail’s annual car gathering held during Monterey Car Week, Ingenlath told TechCrunch that design has always been an important part of the brand. (and you should, Ingenlath was a car designer before taking the Polestar helm.) For example, the success of the latest generation Volvo XC90 and XC40 (Volvo is Polestar’s parent company) has shown that Scandinavian design can succeed.
Today, the company is looking far beyond aesthetics as it plans its aggressive rollout.
For Ingenlath, vehicles are more than just a way to get around town.
“The issue with mobility is that people are too focused on using their car. I mean, people certainly have to become much more flexible,” Ingenlath said.
Using other modes of transportation to get around town might make more sense, but results in the dreaded stationary vehicle. Mobility startups have long complained about the wasted time and money spent on vehicles that just sit around.
Ingenlath doesn’t see it that way. He sees value in the parked EV.
“The battery we have there will be a crucial part of the energy solution for the future because you need it as a buffer,” he noted, pointing to the Polestar O2 concept that would eventually become the Polestar 6 Roadster.
The company announced that a vehicle to charge (also known as two-way charging) comes to their vehicles. Ingenlath told TechCrunch that it will be available for the next generation of Polestar vehicles.
Polestar will send energy back into the grid (potentially reducing the owner’s electricity bills) to help maintain system integrity during peak usage. This is especially important when the house has solar panels and generates more electricity than the house uses. The car will also be a backup battery in the event of a power outage.
While there’s a desire to store solar-generated power for yourself, Ingenlath sees this as more of a community solution.
“We have to feed off the grid and we can’t all isolate ourselves and become this kind of isolated unit,” he said. “We need to work together on this.”
Top-down automated driving
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of a robust public transportation system and still has to commute to work.
For them, the vehicles will eventually offer some kind of automated driving, according to Ingenlath.
“Our cars need to be able to enable that kind of control and that driving experience in the future.” But at the same time, it has this comfort function of turning it off (as a driver) and becoming a more integrated part of autonomous driving,” Ingenlath said.
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 likely still years away for consumer vehicles, Polestar is equipping its vehicles with multiple sensors to help them see the road in different conditions.
What’s in a name
“I’ve seen too many painful naming processes in the auto industry to ever get into that.”
Unlike Volvo, which has announced that its future vehicles will be given names instead of alphanumeric names, Polestar is sticking to the numerical sequence nomenclature.
Ingenlath is happy to call the vehicles what they are. For example, the Polestar 6 roadster. He also notes that as soon as you come up with a name, there’s always a chance it might infringe on another company’s rights, and frankly, he doesn’t like that kind of headache.
Instead, the CEO sees a world with Polestars not only on the road, impressing other drivers with its design, but also at home, helping to power the grid. Auto company CEOs generally discourage leaving a car at home for the good of society.
Ingenlath’s vision for Polestar resonated with the market; perhaps his vision for community-based energy solutions will, too.