Polestar, the Swedish automotive marque under Chinese ownership by Geely, has set its sights on an unconventional frontier: the smartphone market. In an interview with CNBC during the IAA Mobility auto show in Munich, Polestar’s CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, disclosed the company’s intentions to introduce a Polestar-branded smartphone to the market this December in collaboration with Xingji Meizu, a subsidiary of Geely.
This unexpected foray into the smartphone sector comes at a time when the smartphone market has experienced consolidation, with notable departures such as LG and HTC. Moreover, the once-prominent Huawei has grappled with US trade sanctions, diminishing its global presence.
However, Ingenlath clarified that Polestar’s objective is not to compete directly with tech giants like Apple, Oppo, Xiaomi, or Huawei. Rather, the smartphone venture serves as a means to showcase Polestar’s vehicles as sophisticated “computers on wheels.” This endeavour seeks to establish a seamless connection between the automotive and technology realms, which is currently lacking.
The forthcoming Polestar phone is expected to operate on a customised version of Meizu’s Flyme OS, a strategic move to ensure harmonious integration with Polestar vehicles. The symbiotic relationship extends to Meizu, which is developing a bespoke version of the OS tailored for Polestar automobiles, facilitating a level of integration that is unprecedented in the industry. Presently, Polestar electric vehicles (EVs) incorporate Android Automotive, directly powered by in-vehicle hardware.
While Meizu predominantly manufactures mid-range smartphones in China, the Polestar-branded phone will likely command a premium price tag. Ingenlath’s statement suggests that the phone’s distinguishing feature will be its seamless integration with Polestar vehicles, rather than competing on price or hardware specifications.
Polestar’s unconventional pivot into the smartphone sector is not unique. Nio, a Chinese electric vehicle startup, is poised to unveil its own branded smartphone later this month. The critical question that looms is whether these companies can succeed in achieving an unprecedented level of synergy between their smartphones and vehicles, potentially disrupting traditional paradigms in the automotive and technology industries.
As the smartphone market welcomes these unorthodox entrants, the industry will be closely watching to gauge the degree of success they achieve and whether they can redefine the notion of connectivity between personal devices and vehicles. The fusion of automotive and tech expertise promises an intriguing future for consumers and industry observers alike.