The conclusion of my Polestar 2 lease is approaching fast. Reflecting on the past three years of driving electric, I ponder the overall experience. What has ownership been like, and do I plan to retain it?
I've been immersed in the world of electric driving for even longer if we take my previous Volvo V60 T8 into account. However, that car introduced some *real* range anxiety, boasting only a 42 km all-electric range in optimal conditions. In a peculiar incident, the car even declined to operate in all-electric mode, displaying a warning on the dashboard: "Aged fuel. Start engine to consume fuel." I had to deplete the fuel reservoir before I could resume electric driving. Nevertheless, let's return to the discussion about the Polestar and the rationale behind choosing this car.
The primary factor influencing my decision was the company itself, particularly its leadership by a designer. What sealed the deal for me was the way it positions itself in the market, emphasizing transparent and open communication about its climate ambitions. The second compelling reason was its aesthetic appeal. The moment I saw the announcement, I was convinced that this would be our next car. All of this was decided well before I even had the chance to take it for a test drive.
How Was the Ownership Experience?
My initial experience behind the wheel was at a Polestar event in Kortrijk, and fortunately, it exceeded all expectations. This car is truly fantastic to drive, boasting excellent build quality. It's a Magnesium variant equipped with a dual motor, delivering 300 kW / 408 hp. The acceleration is impressively fast, taking just 4.7 seconds to reach 100 km/h. The Polestar 2 cabin is quiet, especially so on winter tires. Pilot Assist works great and is trustworthy. Geert even uses it on all roads. It's the type of car that you eagerly anticipate driving every time you step into it.
The ownership experience had its share of hiccups, particularly in the initial stages. The TCAM Module exhibited erratic behavior, leading to an unstable internet connection and, at times, a complete lack of data—quite problematic given the car's reliance on it. Fortunately, the module was replaced a couple of times, all covered under warranty. The resolution to these issues came when there was an improvement in network coverage, ultimately addressing the connectivity issues.
I encountered one significant problem when the car abruptly refused to function, leaving me stranded in the middle of an intersection. Subsequently, the car had to be towed to the garage, where it was determined that the issue lay with the printed circuit board. In each of these instances, I was provided with a replacement car. My trust in the brand remained steadfast, largely owing to the exceptional service and customer support from ACG Polestar Ghent. The service there is truly top-notch, with incredibly helpful staff. I never experienced frustration when reaching out or visiting, thanks to Isabel Vanhulle and her excellent team! They now also have Polestar spaces.
Overal the experience these past 3 years has been lovely with some room for improvement on the phone part. Just remember that I was an early adopter.
Let's delve into the software, a crucial aspect of the ownership experience. The system operates on Android Automotive, and the current state of the car is vastly different from its 2020 counterpart. Over time, I've received numerous 'over the air updates' that have not only refined the car but also introduced new features. The most significant improvement has been the enhanced efficiency of the car, achieved through meticulous tuning of the motors. In the early stages of ownership, most of my rides consumed 25 kWh/100 km or more, considering the car's 19" tires. Nowadays, it's not uncommon for me to achieve 17 kWh/100 km, marking a notable improvement in overall efficiency throughout my ownership. Overal efficiency the last 5000km has been around 19 kWh/100 km.
Another crucial aspect of owning an electric vehicle is the software that manages predictions about your range when inputting a destination into the navigation system. The mapping itself is powered by Google, ensuring a top-tier experience. The battery management is notably reliable, consistently providing slightly conservative estimates, usually a few percentage points below the actual capacity. I have complete trust in the system and am comfortable pushing the charge level to around 10% or even lower.
In cases where the remaining charge isn't sufficient to reach the destination, the car suggests suitable charging stops, providing information on available stalls and the required charging time. These are insights gained through experience. Those who express concerns about spending two hours charging likely haven't had much EV experience. Charging the car to 100% is uncommon because the process slows down significantly from 80% onwards. Personally, I typically charge to 60%, 70%, or 80%, depending on the destination.
With an EV, your approach to travel planning evolves. Stops align with natural breaks for activities like using the restroom, relaxing, eating, or grabbing a drink. Most of the time, you end up needing to hurry to prevent overcharging. It's surprising how quickly 30 minutes pass, and the gained range is often more than enough.
The Phone Application
One aspect that didn't quite meet expectations was the phone application. Its functionality was severely limited, often leading to frustrating experiences. For instance, when the car was charging in the village on a discounted tariff, attempting to check the remaining charging time resulted in the app failing to refresh correctly. It displayed inaccurate charge levels or timed out. No way to get a notification when charging was done. Another instance was with pre-conditioning the car, where clicking would lead to multiple timeouts before actually working. After nearly three years, they've finally launched version 4 of the app recently, a complete rebuild that now operates seamlessly and as anticipated. It's almost amusing when they announce the release of a phone that seems so unnecessary and doesn't align with their environmental goals when they need that long to get an app running as it should. We don’t need more, we need less!
Will I Stay with Polestar?
I had hoped for the Polestar 4 to be a smaller car, but unfortunately, that's not the case. In my sincere opinion, Polestar's inclination towards larger cars seems somewhat at odds with their environmental aspirations. I understand that people love BIG SUV’s but sometimes you have to be brave and be a leader and steer people in a different direction with a well thought out offering. So no I not will extend my lease.
I'm returning to Volvo! My upcoming car will be an EX30—the smallest Volvo yet and at an affordable price. Similar to my approach with the Polestar 2, I placed the order without seeing it in person or test driving it. It should be in my hands by April. Will test drive it in January.