Popular European EV Powers Up
Volvo’s electric offshoot, Polestar, has become one of the most successful sellers of electric cars in Europe. Until recently, the brand only had one model in its lineup: the attractive Polestar 2, a hatchback that looks like a sedan with a slightly taller ride height. Europeans clearly love the Polestar 2, and in 2022, it quickly passed the 100,000-unit production mark. But the company is not resting on its laurels, and recently announced a major update to the Polestar 2 for the 2024 model year. Improvements include longer range, more horsepower, and the availability of a new rear-wheel drive version.
Updated Looks; Improved Tech
The Polestar 2’s distinctive styling is undoubtedly one of the keys to its success. It looks quite unlike anything else, a distinctively Scandinavian combination of practicality and elegance. Accordingly, the updates for 2024 are subtle ones, with a new “SmartZone” housing all the vehicle’s advanced sensors and cameras. It replaces the old Polestar 2’s “grille,” and signifies the shift from an internal-combustion engine “breathing” to the electric vehicle “seeing” the road ahead. The optional 20-inch forged alloy wheels have also been updated to a similar design to the new Polestar 3 SUV.
Not much has changed inside. The Polestar 2 was one of the first vehicles in the world to feature the Android Automotive OS with Google built-in, and that simplified experience continues to be class-leading.
Standard equipment for the Polestar 2 has been improved as well. Driver-awareness features are now standard, including a blind spot information system with steering support, cross traffic alert with brake support, and rear collision warning and mitigation. There is also a 360-degree surround-view camera and automatic dimming exterior mirrors. A wireless phone charger is now also standard on all versions.
New Electric Motors
More changes are under the hood, so to speak. The 2024 Polestar 2 features next-generation electric motors and inverters, which offer much better efficiency as well as performance. The motors feature a newly-developed permanent magnet motor and silicon carbide inverter. In the single-motor version, power is up from 231 hp to 295 hp, and drops the 0-62 mph sprint to 6.2 seconds, down from 7.4. The single-motor version is also now rear-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive, which should result in sportier handling.
The dual-motor Polestar 2 now has a rear-drive bias to increase driving pleasure and performance, as well. The new rear motor is its primary drive source, and supported by a new asynchronous motor on the front axle. Together, their total system output is 415 hp, up from 402 hp. Polestar also claims improved traction, greater overall efficiency and higher performance – 0-62 mph is now a blistering 4.5 seconds. The front motor can now be disengaged completely when not needed, which further improves efficiency; when the driver wants more power or needs traction at the front wheels, the front motor re-engages instantly and seamlessly.
A Performance Pack is still available for the dual-motor Polestar 2, and delivers a 0-62 mph sprint as low as just 4.2 seconds. The extra power is actually available for purchase as an over-the-air software upgrade for dual-motor Polestar 2s.
North American Polestar 2 models will retain the 78 kWh battery capacity and top 155 kW DC fast-charging speed. Range improvements come from optimized power delivery from the improved motors, as well as the front motor’s ability to disconnect when not needed. On the European WLTP driving cycle, which typically has higher ratings than our EPA, the claimed range for the dual-motor version is now 367 miles, though we would expect a lower number once it’s tested in the U.S. The long-range single-motor version, now rear-wheel drive, has a claimed 394 mile range on the WLTP cycle, though we expect a lower EPA rating for that model as well.
For those as interested in sustainability as performance and efficiency, Polestar also claims that improved battery chemistry results in a more efficient production process, reducing the carbon emissions for battery production by 1.1 metric tonnes. The company plans a full life-cycle assessment of the Polestar 2 later in 2023.
Polestar has just started taking reservations for the 2024 Polestar 2 on its website for European markets; we expect the order bank for U.S. customers to open in the first quarter of this year, and pricing will be announced then. The first deliveries to customers will begin in the second half of 2023.