Polestar 2 owners will find an over-the-air software surprise waiting for them over the next few weeks, with the electric car getting one of its first major firmware updates to improve range and upgrade Android Automotive OS, among other changes. The ability to push out OTA updates that affect not only the infotainment system but active safety systems, the powertrain, and more was one of the key selling points for the Polestar 2 when it launched last year.
It means – as Tesla owners have come to enjoy in their EVs – fewer visits to service centers, particularly to install software patches that would previously have required a technician physically plugging a computer into the car to load. Instead, most of the Polestar 2’s systems can be remotely updated.
According to the automaker, the changes with this new software include the addition of Connected Safety. It’s a V2V (or C2C) system, which effectively allows Polestar and Volvo vehicles to collectively pool their data about road conditions. For example, if a connected Volvo reports that its traction control had to weigh in because of ice on the road, or if another Polestar is involved in a crash that could represent a hazard to other vehicles, that data will be uploaded to the cloud and then shared as a dashboard alert with Polestar 2 drivers.
It’s not the only potentially meaningful change which could make a difference in everyday driving. Polestar says the new Polestar 2 software includes “range improvements” along with “incremental speed improvements for DC charging.”
Update: According to a Polestar spokesperson, the range improvements from the new software “are of a few miles” and will also be dependent on driving style and the type of roads you’re on. Other factors, such as HVAC settings in the car, will also have an impact. As for charging improvements, the EV’s ability to sustain higher charging rates has increased thanks to thermal and communication management refinements. Currently, the Polestar 2 is rated for 233 miles of EPA range on a full battery.
Update 2: According to Polestar, there are actually more changes to charging than initially explained. The peak DC fast charging rate is now 155 kW, up from 150 kW, with other improvements in how quickly the Polestar 2 reaches its maximum charging rate as well as how long it can sustain that. The range improvements, meanwhile, are mainly down to tweaks to how the regenerative braking system operates, Polestar says. The original article continues below.
Other changes include improvements to Bluetooth connectivity, climate timers, and the 360 degree camera. Unspecified changes to Android Automotive OS have been made too, “and a safety-related bug fix.” Finally, the digital owner’s manual – accessed through the large dashboard touchscreen – has also been updated.
The changes are really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what OTA updates could adjust, mind. Future upgrades could cover anything including “stability improvements, charging speed increases, range improvements and new base software,” Polestar suggests, delivered via the 4G LTE modem that also connects the EV to Google’s cloud. They could even enable hardware features currently present on the cars, but not available to US owners, such as the clever adaptive headlamps which the Polestar 2 is fitted with but cannot use due to American regulations.