After Polestar Test Drive, Whitney Tilson Says Tesla Reigns Superior

Polestar Test Drive

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing his test drive of the Polestar.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Polestar Test Drive

I test drove the new Polestar earlier this afternoon (see below for the email I sent out about it on July 24 after visiting the pop-up showroom on 5 E. 59th St., right across the street from the Apple store). Here’s a picture:

Polestar

The salesperson and I did a three-mile loop up Madison, across Central Park, down Central Park West, and back to the showroom, so I didn’t have a chance to test its acceleration.

But it drove smoothly and handled well. Like the cars of its parent company, Volvo, the Polestar appears to be very well built and has all the latest safety features.

I liked the fact that the software system is integrated with Google, including Google Maps (the mapping software built into my 2018 Volvo XC60 is lousy).

You can also talk to the system – for example, you can say, “Hey Google, please adjust the temperature to 68 degrees” and it will supposedly do so (during my test drive, it recognized what I was saying, but didn’t turn on the air conditioning – the salesperson said the software can be buggy). I also noticed some bugginess when I turned the seat and steering wheel heating on and off – there was a delay in responding to my finger pushes. Overall, the software interface was OK, but I don’t think Polestar owners will be raving about it in the same way Tesla owners do.

I didn’t turn on the Pilot Assist, but if it’s the same as what’s in my current Volvo (I suspect it is), it’s not very good. I usually have it on when I’m driving on the highway in case I drift out of my lane, but it’s nothing like Tesla’s Autopilot.

And there’s no supercharger network. The salesperson showed me an app that maps every charger in the area, with Kw capacity and how many charging spots are available. But
she wasn’t able to answer my question: “For the 174 Kw charging station you’re showing me, how quickly will it charge the Polestar from, say, 20% to 80%?” My guess is: less than half the speed of Tesla’s supercharger.

In summary, my conclusion from July 24 hasn’t changed:

The Polestar 2 reminds me of the Jaguar iPace and Audi eTron, both of which have been total busts in the U.S., though have sold better in Europe. I suspect the same will be true for the Polestar 2…

PS – If you want to sign up for a test drive, click here

Polestar

Polestar Is Now Taking Orders

Subject: I checked out the Polestar 1 and 2 this afternoon

Polestar is a new Sino-Swedish automotive brand jointly owned by Volvo and its parent company Geely. It is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden with production taking place in Chengdu, China.

It is now taking orders for two new cars: the Polestar 1, a hybrid sports car with an MSRP of $155,000 (sold out until next year), and the Polestar 2, a pure EV that falls somewhere in between the Tesla Model S and Model 3, with an MSRP of $59,900 (you can configure one here: https://www.polestar.com/us/polestar-2/configurator; delivery in November I was told).

Two days ago, Polestar opened up a “pop-up” showroom in NYC, right across the street from the Apple Store on 59th and Fifth (there are three others in CA), so

I went in this afternoon to check out the cars.

I was very impressed with both – they look great, seem solidly built, are luxurious, have panoramic sunroofs like Teslas, have good specs, all of the safety features and technology that Volvo is rightly known for, and, as the owner of four Volvos over the past two decades, the interior was comfortably familiar.

And I can’t say how they drive (I signed up to be notified when I can take a test drive – maybe in a couple of weeks the salesman said).

And I can’t comment on the software, which is increasingly important to buyers – and a big edge for Tesla I think.

In summary, the Polestar 2 reminds me of the Jaguar iPace and Audi eTron, both of which have been total busts in the U.S., though have sold better in Europe. I suspect the same will be true for the Polestar 2…

That said, these are just two of HUNDREDS of competing cars from every auto manufacturer on earth that are going to hit every market on earth in the next 1-3 years. This tsunami of competition will be great for consumers – but it’s hard to see how it’ll be great for Tesla… and its nearly $300 billion market capitalization…

 

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