Tesla competitor Polestar to launch its own smartphone as part of China’s latest EV trend

  • The move follows a similar announcement by local competitor Nio, as the companies attempt to gain an edge in China’s competitive market
  • Experts say the trend is likely to continue as EVs focus on smart features, although EV makers are not likely to disrupt smartphone market

Polestar, the Swedish electric vehicle (EV) maker owned by Chinese auto giant Geely Holdings, aims to launch a smartphone alongside its upcoming SUV model in China this year, as EV competition in the country revs up.

The plan stems from a partnership between Polestar and Chinese smartphone maker Xingji Meizu, which is also owned by Geely, and will see the products offered in China towards the end of 2023, as first reported by CNBC and later confirmed by the South China Morning Post on Friday.

The move follows a similar announcement from a local competitor, and is emblematic of China’s highly competitive EV market as companies attempt to stay ahead with the most advanced technology and features, according to experts.

“The idea is that the phone and the car’s operating system will be the same, allowing them to merge and offer compatible smart features”, said Yale Zhang Yu,managing director of Shanghai-based research company Automotive Foresight.

While this would essentially turn the car’s display into a smartphone, companies are likely to see the phones themselves as a complement, and not a competitor, to other smartphone brands, he added.

Polestar, spun off from the car brand Volvo, and Xingji Meizu first signed a joint venture to work on smart technologies and an operating system for products in China in June, according to local media reports.

Polestar’s website says its latest operating system offers a “digitally connected experience” and integrates multiple apps in areas including music, navigation and voice recognition.

While Meizu is not a major smartphone player in China with companies like Oppo, Vivo and Apple among the largest, the smartphone integration could help Polestar better compete with giants like Tesla.

The Polestar 4 is currently priced in China at 349,800 Chinese yuan ($47,650), placing it at the high end of the local market, with Tesla’s Model Y starting at around 299,900 yuan.

Premium EVs now need to resemble high-end smartphones more than traditional cars to offer a similar experience to Tesla and its vertically integrated platform, research firm Counterpoint said in a report last month.

Other competition in the premium EV market segment includes Chinese EV start-up Nio, which in June gained regulatory approval to launch its own smartphone. The company said in its latest earnings call, deliveries of the phone could start by September.

According to Alvin Liu, an automotive analyst with Canalys, the EV companies are looking towards smartphone products as part of efforts to create a “well-integrated digital ecosystem”, which can also be used to collect more data about consumer preferences.

“We believe automobile original equipment manufacturers will become a trend in China, and if successful, this will be replicated in global markets.”


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