Polestar Offers a Horsepower Upgrade—Over the Air
- Polestar is launching its first over-the-air update with a focus on performance at the one-time cost of $1195.
- The upgrade will add 68 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque to the Polestar 2 Dual Motor, matching its power figures with the Performance Pack model.
- Setting a precedent for future OTA updates to come, Polestar is rejecting the popular subscription model while maintaining its ability to charge for model differentiation by software.
Swedish EV manufacturer Polestar is the newest member of the over-the-air performance upgrade club. Announcing its first software upgrade campaign, the company is starting small with a 68 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque bump to its Polestar 2 Dual Motor units, making for a total of 476 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. Offered as a permanent, one-time cost for current owners, the $1195 update is now available to US and Canadian customers through Polestar’s online shop.
The numbers don’t lie. Polestar quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds on pre-upgrade models, while the update accounts for a 0.3-second reduction, matching its Performance Pack sibling in its 4.2-second o-60 mph time. It’s worth noting that Car and Driver testing revealed an even quicker off-the-line sprint from the pre-upgrade dual-motor model, clocking an official 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds.
Polestar says that the power upgrade is actually more useful at high speeds, specifically between 44 and 80 mph. The company says that acceleration time from 50 to 75 mph is now a swift 2.2 seconds. Measuring the rolling acceleration metrics of a city-slicking, electric hatchback may seem strange, but making quick passes on a two-lane highway is where EVs like the Polestar 2 excel.
This update brings the Polestar 2 Dual Motor and its Performance Pack sibling closer together, though the company was careful to leave a notable hardware gap. Though the models share exact power figures now, the Performance Pack retains its adjustable Öhlins dampers, Brembo brakes, and special yellow seat belts. Those parts are worth an extra $5500, at least in Polestar’s eyes, and the model occupies a niche that is likely to captivate a subset of performance-oriented EV buyers anyway.
The company is also setting a precedent with its first OTA upgrade, from an internal and industry perspective. As the company moves forward with the Polestar 3 SUV and Polestar 5 GT car, ironing out the update and upgrade process will be essential for smooth operations down the line, especially as the volume of cars in service grows. Similarly, Polestar is rejecting the subscription model set forward by companies like VinFast, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes-Benz recently announced a $1200 yearly subscription service that boosts the power figures of its EQE and EQS models by over 20%; BMW has faced criticism for commodifying existing interior features like heated seats into a monthly subscription; VinFast is going as far as offering a battery subscription service for its cars. Across the spectrum of legacy and startup automakers, the trend towards charging consumers for power, features, and hardware that is already present from the factory is a concerning but predictable one. And Polestar isn’t clear of this charge, given that it is charging for additional power that the battery is already capable of.
Even so, Polestar choosing to make the power upgrade a single-time cost appears as a less costly form of recouping costs, at least for consumers. With chassis and powertrains streamlined by EV production, differentiating model lineups may become as simple as a list of features that the consumer can choose from. Additionally, as manufacturers attempt to claw back a lack of traditional service revenue from EVs, it is likely we’ll see more subscription services in the future.