Polestar has teased the first image of its new Polestar 3 all-electric SUV, along with announcing that the EV will be built in the US. It’s surprising news for the Geely-backed automaker, which so far has produced both of its current models in China, though it could help Volvo-sibling Polestar navigate some thorny new American electric vehicle legislation.
The Polestar 3 will be “an aerodynamic electric performance SUV,” the automaker says, and the largest of the trio of cars. Polestar launched with a luxury hybrid GT, the Polestar 1, though the $155,000 coupe was only made in limited numbers.
It took the Polestar 2 before we saw a real glimpse of the company’s vision for electrification. A full-EV, sharing components and some styling cues with Volvo, the Polestar 2 nonetheless managed to distinguish itself with its unabashed embrace of technology. That includes being the first car available in the US with an Android Automotive OS-powered dashboard.
That’ll also feature in the Polestar 3, though alongside more cabin space and more practicality. The automaker says we can also expect “high-end, safety-focused autonomous driving features” too. Considering Polestar 3 is going to be built on the new SPA 2 platform, and Volvo has already said that will support its Highway Pilot Level 3 autonomy on select highways – i.e. not requiring human supervision while the system is active – it seems likely the EV will support those features too.
The surprise is that Polestar will be building the electric SUV at a production center it will share with Volvo in Ridgeville, South Carolina. That will supply the US market; production of other vehicles will continue in China, and though Polestar is keeping its options open for exporting US-made Polestar 3 to other markets, it’s possible they’ll be supplied with non-US cars instead.
“Polestar 3 will be built in America, for our American customers,” Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar, said of the decision. “I remember the great response when I first shared Polestar’s vision here in the USA and I am proud that our first SUV will be manufactured in South Carolina. From now on, the USA is no longer an export market but a home market.”
That’s an increasingly key point, given the direction electric vehicle incentives appear to be taking. Polestar currently benefits from the $7,500 federal tax credit in the US, helping ease the $50k+ sticker price of the Polestar 2. However, a new incentive system is currently working its way across lawmakers’ desks, potentially more lucrative in many ways, but also including huge roadblocks to some EV-makers.
The new EV tax credit system could cut as much as $12,500 off the cost of a new electric vehicle, if approved, assuming they’re priced under $80,000, are made in the US, and at a facility where employees are members of, or represented by, a labor union. Problem is, there’s also an amendment that excludes Chinese-produced electric vehicles from any EV credit altogether.
Making sure that its US audience is catered for with a US-produced car, then – and a model that’s likely to be Polestar’s most popular, given the current appetite for SUVs – is vital, though Polestar says it also makes sense in other ways.
“Production in the USA reduces delivery times as well as the environmental impact associated with shipping vehicles around the world,” Dennis Nobelius, COO at the automaker, insists. “It will even have a positive impact on the price of Polestar 3.”
That price is yet to be announced, of course. Full details will be shared closer to production starting, with Polestar saying that’s on track to kick off in 2022.