Polestar meets Google – Digital Innovation in the Vehicle
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For the EV industry, this partnership acts as a benchmark of innovation, raising the stakes for competitors and inviting them to similarly step up their game. It highlights the incredible gains that can be made when cross-industry expertise is leveraged to advance common goals. This is especially significant in a time when the push for eco-friendly, sustainable transport solutions is stronger than ever. It sends the message that sustainability and luxury can—and should—coexist, thereby increasing consumer expectations and setting new milestones for the industry to achieve.

For the premium customer, it's an affirmation that choosing an electric vehicle no longer means compromising on comfort, connectivity, or elegance. The holistic, deeply integrated experience offered by this collaboration will undoubtedly set a precedent for what premium consumers will come to expect from their vehicles. This heightened consumer expectation will encourage other luxury automakers to form alliances with tech platforms, thereby rapidly accelerating the rate of innovation and consumer benefits. Welcome to a world where tech-savvy elegance meets eco-conscious sensibility. The future is here, and it's exhilarating.

Fireside Chat at the Polestar Space in Munich Germany © Michael Brecht

I participated in a Fireside Chat with Roger Hjelm, Global Head of Connected Car at Polestar and Ghassan Najjar, Head of Android Auto Partnerships at Google at last week’s IAA Mobility in Munich. The talk took place in the Polestar Space and was hosted by Fanny Rauchenecker, also with Automotive Partnerships at Google. Here are a few highlights for me of this interesting talk:

Question: In the world that we're living in, there are a number of challenges in producing and designing a new vehicle and it is more than just making progress compared to how it was before. We are facing the question how you actually can place a car in a broader perspective in our daily lives? How can it become a part of our life in the way we use it? Is our car becoming the living room, or am I in an office? What do I do with space and time amongst so many other things? So, facing these challenges, how did you manage to start your cooperation between Polestar and Google?

Roger Hjelm, Polestar: One of the early challenges we were facing was about the definition when you get into that space: The way you interact with the car is disconnected with that of your phone or tablet, which is where you spend a lot of your digital life. So, we needed to focus on experiences intuitive enough for our drivers and passengers. Our aim was: When you enter the car today, there should almost be no learning curve so that each new driver could quickly interact with the new device. And that's what we think of having done successfully with our Polestar vehicles.

Ghassan Najjar, Google: One of the first things that we were really laser focused on is how well the users could experience the car from early on. I recall some articles from users in a forum and the posts of these users were always like “wow, this is really easy to use, using the new car without having to go through the ‘stuff’ you can see in some other cars”. It was clear for us: ease of use needs to be very effective. On the positive side, I think we made life easy for everyone. Say you can bring in your profile to the public if you wish to sign in with your account and then what else do you have on Google Maps? Let's say you use your home address or part of recent history with your travels on your phone for example. You can quickly migrate to the point without having to search for any specific history. Today there is any easy connection between outside and inside.

Question: The partnership journey has begun in 2017 - how has the journey been thus far?

Roger Hjelm, Polestar: When answering your question, it is important to push us a little back in history when it comes to different OEMs and the whole industry as such. We're coming from a very traditional way with automotive manufacturers that traditionally needed to do everything by themselves. And compare that today with a small team like us at Polestar for instance, in comparison with the millions of users of Google Maps today. Let’s face reality, we cannot compete in the market like that. Hence our decision to embrace it and say: I have a user here that is very used to navigating in Google Maps. Why shouldn’t we give the same user the same opportunity in the vehicle? The user then knows how it works and I think that is also something that the whole partnership was built upon. How can we make this experience as intuitive as possible, as if you're using this in your daily life outside the car. When merging these services between a car manufacturer and Google, we are creating a ‘one plus one equals three’ because that's literally what's happening. And it's really been a very close collaboration between all the different teams to create these new products.

The more technology and the more things that we have in the vehicle, the more monitored it will be, as we always get those regulators and morals and countries and whatever it might be pushing ourselves a little. It is about our vision of intuitiveness as much as you want to talk about the customer as well. Coming back to the living room and the space and time. What do you do in that car with that time you spend in it? At that point in time rather than just while driving. Then of course, we should never ever remove drivability and the passion for driving his car – this is still key.

It was a great evening with many interesting and personal discussions that followed the talk - thanks for the invite, Polestar and Google.

Photos courtesy of MOTION Magazine & Michael Brecht.