Episode 169 - Avant-Garde EV Company to Build in the US

While you may not have heard of Polestar, its exceptional performance, unique buying experience, and commitment to sustainability enables this novel brand to “intercept” its customers.

Headquartered in Sweden and built with Scandinavian minimalism in mind, Polestar offers a friction-free, primarily digital EV buying experience which includes boutique showrooms in areas with high foot traffic—a contrast to the traditional car lot. The company recently unveiled its first electric performance SUV, the Polestar 3, which is produced in United States.

With a focus on supply chain traceability and sustainability labelling, Polestar assesses their vehicles’ lifetime carbon footprint, covering emissions from materials production, manufacturing, and logistics, use phase, and end of life. As part of their commitment to an electrified future, Polestar also recently partnered with the SAE Foundation to spark STEM curiosity amongst students.

To learn more about this burgeoning brand, we sat down with Gregor Hembrough, Head of Polestar North America, to discuss the company’s vision, traceability in the supply chain, and the Polestar 3 production in South Carolina.

Meet Our Guest

Head of Polestar North America, Polestar Automotive

Gregor Hembrough has been in charge of the operations for the United States and Canada since July 2018. In this role, Hembrough has overall responsibility for the company's brand and marketing, sales and after-sales operations in North America. He also helped launch the brand in the United States and Canada following Polestar’s initial debut in Shanghai in October 2017.

Hembrough has more than 30 years of experience working in the automotive industry. He began his career in automotive retail. He joined the Volvo Car Group in 1990, where he assumed various roles that heavily influenced the product strategy and operations in the United States, Sweden, United Kingdom and Belgium. Before joining Polestar, Hembrough served as the Vice President of Volvo Car USA.

A New Jersey native, Hembrough received a Master’s in Marketing from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.


Grayson Brulte:

Hello, I'm your host, Grayson Brulte. Welcome to another episode of SAE Tomorrow Today, a show about emerging technology and trends in mobility with the leaders and innovators to make it all happen. On today's episode, we're absolutely honored to be joined by Gregor Hembrough, head of Polestar America. On today's episode, he'll share the company's journey into the EV space and their plans to create a great user experience.

We hope you enjoy this episode. Gregor, welcome to podcast. 

Gregor Hembrough:

Thank you, Grayson, an honor to be here with you today. 

Grayson Brulte:

I'm excited to have you here because Polestar is building one of the world's most sustainable vehicles. The company has a very clear and broad mandate, and frankly, a commitment to sustainability.

But before we dive into all things sustainability around Polestar. For our audience who's not familiar with Polestar, who is Polestar, how would you describe the brand and what makes you unique? 

Gregor Hembrough:

Polestar Swedish Electric car brand might be new in name, as I like to joke, we're a 95-year-old scale up.

We began our life as part of the Volvo Car Corporation in the nineties with the Swedish Touring Car Championship, which basically was the performance division of Volvo back in 2017. We were actually purchased by Volvo and announced as a separate company with a separate vision in 2020. So between 2017 and 2020 we're actually the performance leg of Volvo.

And then basically back in 2017, we were declared a standalone car company with a clear vision, and that was an electric one. So by 2020 we put a firm stake in the ground and said that we'll have two cars on the road by 2020. And as we sit here in May of 2013, 23, excuse me, May, 2023, there's over a hundred thousand Polestars on the road today, globally.

And moving forward, we've been quite clear and convicted that there'll be five Polestars on the road, five different brands or five different versions by 2026 above and beyond the product. There's also something unique that we bring with regards to what sort of experience we give to the customer in a buying and in owning and a living.

And it's very avant-garde. It's very untraditional. So as an example from the product, we talk about digital first and the innovation that I hope you and I can talk a little bit about, whether it be sustainability or whether it be design or whether it be technology. But the other unique thing that we bring to the market is the buying experience that a Polestar customer will go through.

And I hope through our conversation I can pollinate the dialogue a little bit, but what unique, what makes our buying experience a little bit unique than saying, going down to a traditional automobile dealership and transacting on a vehicle. So a very multi-pronged approach from a Swedish car company, which might be young in age, but very mature in their conviction about what they wanna do in the world.

Grayson Brulte:

A 95-year-old scale-up. I like that. You have the commitment. You have the heritage there and you have a clear understanding of innovation, and you have a clear understanding of how to build safety first products. So there are a hundred thousand Polestars on the road today. How do you acquire your customers?

Is it what's appealing them to say? I wanna try a Polestar. I'm curious, what is this, what is that appealing moment that draws that customer in? 

Gregor Hembrough:

It's a great question because when you think about it, 100% of our customers are conquest. They've never been to the brand before because we're a new brand.

And when you take a look back, there's, when we listen to our customers about what makes Polestar on their shopping list, first and foremost it is being an electric car company. And also correlation between our values and their values as well. Limited co2, more specifically, no co2, the design of the product, the technology forward type of product that we bring into the marketplace.

And as I go back to the buying experience, this friction-free buying experience as we want. And these are customers when we take a look at where they're coming from, they're from iconic performance brands. The majority of our customers you would expect might be coming from our strategic affiliate Volvo, and that's not the case at all.

We're a very different product with a very different clientele. BMW four series, BMW three series Audi A four, Audi A five Mercedes-Benz C Class. So these icons with the industry and these customers that revel around. Great quality, great performance, a great brand, and a great experience. Are now moving into our customer base I couldn't be more excited.

Grayson Brulte:

If you'd look at the Audi and the Mercedes, and this is me speaking personally, you have a better design, your design as somebody that's looking at a new vehicle. Your design appeals to me more. How much of that is the design, the Polestar vehicles that are swaying? The customers towards you, where the, where your competitors aren't leaning all into design?

Gregor Hembrough:

I think it's driving quite a bit. Let's be honest with each other. Many say love at first sight, but it is a little bit of that. Our design quite now is, as I go back to the word, meant to be avant-garde. Not to a point where it's polarizing, but it's a bit much more of revolution rather than evolution, and that's ever so true when you start looking at our Polestar three SUV that we'll talk about in a little bit as well.

That's one of our first products going forward that's going to really underscore the true design DNA of Polestar going forward. From the aerodynamics of the car that it brings with having a lower drag coefficient of a Porsche nine 11 to all the design and uniqueness from the front end to the rear end to the way we package the vehicle with incredible legroom as well.

These are things that I overflow with really a lot of enthusiasm about. We've started with a clean sheet, excuse me, and we're able really to execute quite quickly. 

Grayson Brulte:

You mentioned the performance of it. Look at Porsche. The Porsche 911 was an experience. Individuals would buy the Porsche 911 for an experience.

That seems to be what you're doing with Polestar. You're selling an experience. It seems to me that you're transforming more from a car company into a lifestyle brand. And I wanna caveat that with your spaces, which are your dealer locations, they're welcoming. They're inviting. They're not the typical brick and mortar, hi, I'm here to sell you a car, and I'm Bob, get in line.

It seems very inviting, overarching is that trying to build this Polestar lifestyle brand. 

Gregor Hembrough:

It's trying to create a friction free environment. It's quite frankly, trying to take the drippings of a traditional automotive experience, which ranks up there with going to the dentist to really, quite frankly created a very enjoyable experience.

For your listeners, what you'll, where you'll find Polestar spaces, as we call them, will be traditionally high foot traffic areas, high-end malls, as an example, places where you would go to shop or eat or entertain yourself. And it's very important for many reasons. Number one is that we intercept the customers.

We're a very new brand, as I said, we're. We're a scale up at this point. So while we're doing our very yeoman's job of getting the brand messaging out from a traditional media point of view, at the same time period, we know we've gotta intercept customers with the brand in high footfall areas. And when they engage with us, what they'll find is they'll find a very boutique showroom as you declared, where you'll see four to five vehicles.

What you won't see is you won't see. Pre-owned vehicles seven deep. You won't see a yard full of cars that are aging in inventory. You won't see trade-ins be, coming into the mall to go to that location as well. And as you said, you won't see a typical type of sales tactic where digital first brand even if you walk into our Polestar spaces, everything is taken care of on an iPad or a tall table where customers can configure their vehicles.

All the prices are transparent. What you build is the price that you pay for the vehicle. And then we bring the cars up from our port of entry so you don't get this tension or this friction of a traditional automotive experience where somebody might have a car sitting on the quote lot for many weeks and they just want to get rid of it, and they're trying to negotiate deals and all that stuff.

And lastly is you won't see them on every street corner, and that's by design. It's to remove this drippings of competitiveness within the designated market area, to, again, going back to create the Polestar space as a destination that customers want to go to. They wanna experience the product.

They can take test drives there. They can learn about the brand. They can feel everything from leather samples, cloth samples to see the color of the vehicle. And then lastly is they can take the delivery of their vehicle as well. The last thing I might add, is being a lifestyle brand or a friction free brand, as I said, is we also offer pickup and delivery.

So as an example, Grayson, you can order a Polestar from your phone today and I could have the car delivered to your driveway. I. Within seven to 10 days, including all the paperwork that take care of it as well. So when I started with this company back in 2017, these are things that were quite revolutionary to the industry.

How could you buy a car from your phone? How could you have it delivered to your driveway? And with a very big smile, I could say, we've done it. We're doing that today, and our customers adore it. 

Grayson Brulte:

And I ordered my previous car, I had to go to the dealer, pay the deposit due list and this whole long thing.

And then they tried to tell me we're gonna ship it to your house. We have to pay. No, not for the price. I'm paying for the vehicle. I'll walk away. Oh, I have to go talk to the manager and they get me. It was this convoluted experience and long story short, I moved on to another brand because the experience was so bad.

I'm really curious the at, so you look at your design atelier. Inside of the spaces. Walk our listeners through what that experience like. You mentioned, they could, they can touch the cloth, they can see the colors. What is that experience like? Was that how you built spaces, was around the design atelier model?

Gregor Hembrough:

100%. It was designed around two main tracks, being digital first, but also having proof of concept. So going into a Polestar space. The product is there. So we wanna really underscore to the customer that this is not vaporware. These products are on the road, and not only are they there, you could actually take one for a test drive.

So if it's a mall location, you would go up to the parking lot, the cars would be charging. You could actually take an opportunity to drive the vehicle for whatever it might be, 30 to 45 minutes, and let me come back to that in a moment. But also have the ability for the customers to say if you don't particularly care for this color or this interior, We can actually go to the atelier table and build the car digitally.

And while you're building the car digitally, the price will be variable. Oh, you want leather instead of cloth. The price will change. You wanna move up to a performance package, the price will change. Ultimately culminating in is the car available at the port? Is it on a boat coming in from our manufacturing plant?

When will it be available? Allowing the customer to even place a deposit electronically for the vehicle, giving them an e t and something very akin to, anything that you would transact on another iconic brand like Amazon. So the nice thing is it's a very hybrid experience. If a customer wishes to be guided through the purchase, Test, drive the vehicle.

See proof of concept for color to material, and actually talk to a Polestar space specialist. The option is there. Conversely, if you've experienced the brand or you have a very big faith in what we're going to deliver because we're declare it on our website, as I said, you can order it from your phone and I can deliver it within seven to 10 days if the specification exists within the US in your driveway.

The other unique thing before I forget, is we also have at-home test drives. So again, talking about this friction-free environment. Not everybody wants to go to a shopping mall. Not everybody wants to go to a Polestar space, but they wanna witness the product. No problem. Go online, book an appointment.

I'll bring the car to your driveway and let you drive the vehicle on your own terms in your own place. 

Grayson Brulte:

You're eliminating friction cuz are, the neighborhoods where we live are unique. There's certain driving environments. I live in a neighborhood where you can't go over 25 miles an hour and certain individuals might live in an environment where there's a lot of twisty turns.

So you get to actually experience the vehicle in your environment. What was the strategy behind the at-home test drives? Was it just to expand the brand and say they we're digital first brand, but we're welcoming you? You said Amazon. It's simple. I need ink for my printer. I go on Amazon and it's here tomorrow.

I don't think twice. Was it? Is that friction free, wonderful experience? Is that what drove that? 

Gregor Hembrough:

100% it's friction free. And also, again, I have to go back to is that we know that we're a brand that's swinging with the, above its weight with regards to brand awareness right now. And the result of such is that very clever marketing of where we present the brand, but also things such as this is.

To give the customer an ability to experience the brand, become acquainted to the brand with very low terms of engagement. There's nothing like a deposit you need to put down. There's nothing like anything above just saying, I love what you guys are saying. Can you bring one to my driveway?

Let's say, I wanna show my spouse. I wanna show my kids. I wanna show my parents. I want them in the car. We all know that as well. So again, I think it's a little bit more about revolutionary than evolutionary way of to actually get a customer transaction process moving. We are very philanthropic in one mindset, but we're also business people and we see a very high closing ratio when we actually bring a car out to a customer and let them test drive the vehicle in their terms and their neighborhood with who they want driving in the passenger seat, not who we're declaring going in the passenger seat.

Grayson Brulte:

I'll summarize it this way with one word. Brilliant. It's an absolutely. Brilliant strategy and your numbers are showing it there doing research for this podcast. I was really curious, looking at your spaces, you have five spaces in Florida, so first of all, thank you. I live in Florida, so thank you for investing in the state of Florida.

That's fantastic. It's one of your largest retail presences in the United States. Why make such a large commitment to Florida? 

Gregor Hembrough:

The opportunity, Florida, as you may know, is the second largest EV market behind California in the United States. So we have a space in Tampa, we have a space in Fort Lauderdale, we have a space in Naples.

We're going into Coral Gables momentarily, and the one I'm most proud about is I'm proud of all of 'em, but the one that's coming very quickly to us is I'll be down in Palm Beach on June 3rd, celebrating the grand opening of our Palm Beach store as well. The opportunity's there, we know the customer's base is there.

And not only that, it's also going to be a very strong SUV market as well. And you living in Florida, you probably know that, so you ring the bell twice. High EV demand, high EV opportunity. And with the advent of the Polestar three, it's going to be a great product for the Floridians. 

Grayson Brulte:

I live in Palm Beach, so we can't wait to welcome you down here on June 3rd.

And when I drive around the island, I see more electric vehicles every single day for a variety of brands and I can't wait to see the Polestars driving around the island. So can't wait to welcome you officially to, to Palm Beach. Let's dive into the vehicles here cuz at the core you build a really great vehicle.

The Polestar 3. Talk about that vehicle please.

Gregor Hembrough:

Can I start one second with where we began, because I'm very proud of the Polestar 1. The Polestar 1 was, still is, by the way our 619-horsepower coop. It's a hybrid, so it's the only car that's ever been in our portfolio that has been a hybrid and it will only be going forward.

We're full electric as well. Cars, carbon fiber. There was less than 1,500 made globally, so it's a very rare product, but it was really the messenger of the brand going forward. So I really would implore all your listeners to really take a look at Polestar 1 and fall in love Very quickly, the Polestar 2 was launched in 2020.

It's our first full electric vehicle. It's the car that really drove us to over a hundred thousand units in the world right now on the roads. And then comes the Polestar 3, the car that you just referred to, that's a vehicle that will be in the Polestar showrooms this summer. So we're bringing showroom demonstrators to the Polestar spaces and the next 90 to 180 days. It's the first SUV and it's gonna bring a lot to the Polestar brand. What do I mean by that? We also know in the US that the SUV segment is by and large, the biggest one. It even rings true when it goes into luxury segment. And we take a look at our rivals. We'll be the BMW I X from a pure EV perspective.

But we also know that we're gonna be bringing in customers from the Porsche. Everywhere from the Porsche Cayenne to the Porsche Macan, to the Range Rover, to the BMW X five, to some of the Mercedes-Benz, the Audi Q eight as well. So we're really playing in some iconic fields at that point from a design perspective.

I really traditionally go back to the word revolutionary from packaging of the product from a performance perspective zero to 60 miles an hour under four seconds, a range over 300 miles, and it's a car that's going to be produced in North America. So we will bring production to Ridgeville, South Carolina, which is right outside of Charleston in 2024.

And as I like to say, it's a car that's built on a continent that's made for this continent. 

Grayson Brulte: 

Absolutely. I’m curious, what advantages does it give you? Being built in South Carolina. You're in North America, obviously we have the inflation reduction act. To me, that just seems you're, if you wanna use the term, we're gonna go use the race term, putting octane in the tank to really accelerate this growth here.

Gregor Hembrough:

For sure. That's a byproduct of that. We had these plans well in advance of August of last year when the IRA came to it came to light. It comes back to really going back to the heart of the customer. And, when we take a look from a global footprint continue to go back and say that the Polestar three will have the biggest audience within the North American marketplace, and to be able to build where you sell has always been one of the strategies for Polestar.

So what does this mean from a customer? This means a quick lead time. So they go into the polestar space and they actually place an order. If it's not in the pipeline, we'll quickly put one on the assembly line for them and get them into the doors of the Polestar space with a quick turnaround as well.
Also, it's also efficiencies. From a production point of view, I have to continue to go back to our strategic affiliate with Volvo. It'll be built on the same campus as their upcoming product. I'll let Volvo talk about their upcoming product, but again, there's efficiencies that bring to it as well, and it also brings it, I shouldn't be remiss in saying it brings, jobs into an American workforce at the same time period.

So for me, anywhere you color it, This for Polestar North America and for the customers and for our Polestar spaces, I think is going to be a tremendous win from a product perspective, from an industrial perspective, and from an economy perspective. 

Grayson Brulte:

Absolutely. I'm gonna quote Senator Scott and say jobs. Every district wants jobs and you're creating jobs in the district there in, in South Carolina. I wanna dive into the traceability. Polestar has been extremely out front and committed from traceability from every material that's going into what's called the user experience. From the seats to the seat belts all the way down to the batteries.

You're tracking and tracing this vehicle to make it, as I said earlier, one of the world's most sustainable vehicles. How are you able to do that, especially as you start ramping up and scaling the South Carolina plan? 

Gregor Hembrough: 

Wait, it starts from the beginning and it's absolutely a moonshot goal that we continue to follow every single day.

Grayson Brulte:

But it's, it obviously starts with the mindset and follows through with execution. And as I said, when we started Polestar back in 2017, it continued to be one of the iconic hallmarks that we would follow. So it really starts at the core. Design technology innovation. You've heard me say many times before, sustainability continues to be in that inner circle as well It starts with our executive team and our board of directors.

We can constantly improve and innovate and continue to experiment as much as we can with our journey to create this traceability. It. We've gotten vendors on board that have the same mindset, the same ethos, the same desire to execute upon this and this, as I say to everybody it's not an afterthought.

It's not about, okay, we're going to be environmentally and sustainability forward and. By doing so, we're gonna get some carbon footprint offsets. Absolutely not. It starts with, we're looking right now at who's going to be the vendors for the next generation of Polestar. The five and the sixes that we've been very clear will come to the marketplace by doing so, traditionally you would say, who's gonna develop quality products for us?

Who's going to have a great partnership for us from delivering in time? Who's gonna give us the best purchasing price? But who's also going to come along with us with traceability and sustainability in that same mindset of where we source materials and minerals from. So it starts from the beginning and the rest is not an easy adventure afterwards, but it's one that we're married to and it will be continuing to be one of our brand ethos. 

It's resonating because Polestar vehicle deliveries were up 26% to 12,076 vehicles in the first quarter. So it's resonating with consumers. As you get a consumer that has a digital first experience or consumer that goes into one of your spaces, are they asking about the traceability are, is there a general interest or, hey, I bought your car because you're not fluffing this and you're not getting offset. You're actually putting your money where your mouth is. 

Gregor Hembrough:

More than you would think. I'm a student of the auto industry for many years. I'm eclipsing my 30th year, which I hate to admit, but it teaches you a lot of things. And traditionally it would be buy, I buy about product, about the way it looks and what kind of deal I got on it.

This next generation and the generation we're witnessing right now. The mindset is all those things that you just talked about and if it could be long-winded. A couple of things that we do locally here in Northern New Jersey is we reach out to the local communities quite a bit. There's a lot of endeavors we do for CSR Corp, corporate, social responsibility and relationships.

And one of the things that we've recently done is teamed up with a local high school. And we really had a business to education class for over a semester, and we grabbed, we took a look at some of the seniors, the business seniors, brought them into the headquarters and talked to them about our product.

Guys help us launch a car and we gave them an assignment to go for the semester. But the interesting thing, Grayson, is when I said to them, what does Polestar mean to you? The same way that we opened up our conversation, expecting to look around at a group of 17- and 18-year-olds and saying, is this need for speed mentality?

Hey, cool car. I love your Google Assistant. I love the Harmon card and audio system. My friend tells me you guys can do zero to 60 and 3.7 seconds. Those are the things I was expecting, and what I got back was I. Sustainability, environmental consciousness, green recyclability. These were all things that were coming from 17- and 18-year-olds, electrification.

So when you put together a word cloud of what was important for these younger customers that we know are really starting their driving experience and their journey to car ownership, it was the first thing that's come outta my mouth. And for me, if you go back to when I started driving, it was absolutely about horsepower.

It was about torque. It was about, rear wheel drive versus front wheel drive, all those things like that. And it was just a really great I would say comfort to know that were certainly on the right track with the things that we hold so near and think that are important for the environment, but also important for our customers moving forward was solidified from the words of younger customer basis and quite frankly, our future. 

Grayson Brulte:

When you have those younger customers or those individuals that you interacted with in 17, 18, and in some cases probably nine 19, do you see that spreading across the United States?

Is that, that the customers are gonna basically demand that as they get to driving age and perhaps they graduate from college, they get their first job and they're looking to. To get a nice vehicle. Do you see that sustainability mindset around electrification, traceability, becoming a big defining factor? If they're looking at CAR A versus car B? 

Gregor Hembrough:

Undoubtedly, it'll be part of their decision making process going forward. I think that it'll actually start to expand even to ethical business practices, to be quite honest with you going forward. So these are all things that I think that you'll start to see as society and norms start to influence buying decisions, not only for our customers, but I think for the generations behind us. 

Grayson Brulte:

The generations behind us are gonna do really wonderful things and I can't wait to see what they build and the positive impact they're gonna have on the world. I'm gonna dive more into this traceability cuz I'm really geeking out on them learning a lot.

Polestar is beginning to design around materials from scratch. That's really interesting. Could you talk about that program please? 

Gregor Hembrough:

Yeah. I'll give you a perfect example. One of them is the new material that we bring forward in our future product, and it's called B Comp as an example. And we, it's basically sourced from flax based material and things such as carbon fiber and cork-based products.

So when you take a look at looking at traceability of where things are coming from. It's not necessarily, again, going back to the ethics of where it comes from and if it's an environmentally friendly manufacturing process, but it goes back to this. To the core material and to be able to trace, not only is it the material itself, but how is it harvest, how is it produced?

These are things that are absolutely very much in our remit as well. We even go back to, I've had many customers come back to me and say, talk to me about leather. How do you actually put leather into a car? We've teamed up with a very reputable company, such as Bridge of Weir, into making sure that if a customer absolutely is adamant about putting leather into their vehicle, that even the, how are these animals maintained during the ba, basically prior to the recycling process of their next generation. So these are things that we talk about sustainability, not only from a content perspective, but also the way it's actually transferred into the vehicle as well. Vendors, it's going back to making sure that we hitch our wagon to people that have a similar mindset as well. 

Grayson Brulte:

If you look at it from an economic standpoint and we go into the grocery store and you're looking at eggs, you have free range eggs or organic eggs, regular processed eggs, and I don't know why you wanna eat those, but some people do and you have a choice. And I noticed on the shelves here, the free range sell more cuz the customers, the consumer wants to know what they're eating, that the animals were treated ethically.

And this the same thing is happening on the vehicle side, you and several of your other peers in the industry are taking that giant leap forward. So I'm a potential customer. I'm sitting here, I'm listening to our conversation. I'm on my way. I'm gonna go to a Polestar space. What is the first feeling that I'm gonna feel when I sit in your vehicle?

Gregor Hembrough:

Quality 100%. So this is something that I go back and taking a look at is, We should never talk about sustainability. We should never talk about recyclability and make it compromise anything such as the quality of our product. So when you take a look at our competitive segment, because at the end of the day we talk about, the customer mindset, but they're also.

We're a premium vehicle and we also ask to actually ask a premium price for our vehicle competitive, but a premium price. And that goes back to the lifecycle brand. You see how this is all coming together is that people are willing to pay a premium, but what's expected in a premium is a premium experience in a premium product.

So when I talk about all these components, whether they be sustainable or traceable, they're still a very quality product. So the first thing you're gonna sit in a Polestar two today, or a Polestar three figuratively tomorrow, is you're gonna witness a very strong quality product from the touch of the steering wheel to the of the door, to the feeling on the seat.

Then you're gonna talk about the innovation that the car brings. I didn't understand how a car could be so integrated into an Android embedded environment. And by the way, I know there's many people that use an Apple ecosystem and we're not ignoring that at all. It that's works seamlessly with our Android embedded experience, but, How could I talk to Google and have them turn on my thermostat from my car or actually create a broadcast message for my family at home that I'm coming down the street and can you open up the front door?

So that's the other thing you're gonna be marveled with is the technology for convenience sake, not necessarily just because of engineering sake. And we, I think we know the difference. And your listeners know the difference as well, the voice recognition, how genuine, authentic our voice recognition system is.

Versus you could say an OEM-produced one that we've gone to one of the best in the industry as well. The roominess, the airiness of our product, the fit. And finish, but also the feature content is exactly where you would expect it. The human machine interface of our product is exactly going down to it is where you expect it would be and not where you're not.

You're not gonna go through layers and layers of buttons defined how to turn on seat heaters or how to turn on the flashers, or whatever it might be. We've seen a lot of our competition. And I think you could draw some conclusions, go to a single screen and everything has to be touchscreen. We don't believe in that.

We also believe in is that the customer should have a dashboard. They should have urgent information such as their speed or their charge or a map in front of them. And then the secondary feature should be off to your right, such as how do I change the radio station, or how can I alter a couple the features of the dynamic suspension.

And then lastly is we believe in buttons. So they'll, you'll find buttons in the center console because there should be things that have tactile feels to them, especially things such as an audio button to turn up the volume or turn down the button or pause the audio or when you didn't do need to work the flashers because it's an emergency situation, that button is there.

So one of the things also is that we always improve our driving experience. I'm certain in your area, you know all about over the air updates. You can't live without a phone having an over-the-air update. The last thing that I talk about is that we are not only talking about over-the-air updates, we actually have been executing for the last 24 months.

So things such as usability. As an example, I'm very proud to announce today we're getting a software download on Polestar two that brings YouTube. To our cars. So we've been able to use it on a, as a browser in the past, but now we're actually have a, your own downloadable app for YouTube. Things such as increased range or increased efficiency of the air conditioner, heater, all things that we come on over there, the updates.

So you have to answer in a very simple question. I'll give you a very long answer, but you're gonna see quality, you're gonna see technology, you're gonna see divine design, but you're also going to understand that this car was also built for. Convenience as well. Things are right where you expect them to be.

They feel the way they should be as well. And then last thing is that this over-the-air updates will evolve your vehicle over the ownership rather than just keeping you in a static position of where you bought the vehicle. 

Grayson Brulte:

Bingo. The future of mobility, and I've said this many times, will be defined by convenience, that consumers want convenience.

They're willing to pay a premium for convenience. As you're demonstrating and as your peers are demonstrating buttons in a vehicle also work well, you're doing the over the updates cuz that's gonna further allow that individual to. Personalize their vehicle. Perhaps the vehicles shared a husband and wife share, share one vehicle.

Do you have personalized settings in there? So perhaps the wife likes her seat closer and the husband likes it back further and the steering wheel, they just come in there and perhaps they tap their finger and it's all set to them. Are you taking it to that level of personalization? 

Gregor Hembrough:

We're going one step further.

We, we actually have personalization where, let's just say in, in, in a different world, Grayson, you and I shared a car, you'd have different profiles. It's that we could actually change the ambient lighting. You could actually go back to not only your seat settings, but you could also take a look at your favorite radio stations.

So at a push of a button, The car would transform itself into Grayson's car versus Greg's car. We started back in the nineties of saying that, okay, we should tag memory seats and memory steering wheels to a key fob. Again, that's archaic in today's thinking. Now we're going back into saying even to the way that the car performs.

I like, I don't like one pedal drive. You might like one pedal drive. So your profile will continue to have that versus mine that doesn't have it. As well, even going down to the synchronization of Google. So it knows where my I live. So if I drive the vehicle, it'll default to when I say to go home, it'll go to my address.

When you get in the car and change your profile, it'll have settings such as your office, your home, and by the way, it's gonna be the same in your Google settings as your phone, of course, because it should be seamless onboard versus off board. 

Grayson Brulte:

That's a beautiful experience. I like to drive with one pedal.

My, my wife doesn't like it, so thank goodness our car does it. But that's a very clear example when you share a vehicle. So we got through all the experience, we got through everything on there. What's the range? What type of range is, are your vehicles, especially the Polestar three going to be able to achieve over 300 miles.

That's, that changes the game. So now the range anxiety starts to go by the wayside. Cause you're gonna go over 300 miles. 

Gregor Hembrough:

300 miles in a 500 horsepower SUV. The dynamics and the offer that we bring are continuing is that, when I go back and I look about the advent of electric vehicles and Okay, I'll age myself and we talk a lot about the early two thousands, the mid two thousands and electric vehicle always had some sort of compromise, whether it be the packaging of the vehicle, design of the vehicle, because you had to put the battery somewhere.

And again, let's be honest with yourself and the listeners. It was taking a traditional internal combustion platform and a internal combustion top hat of the vehicle and trying to somewhere to put the battery in there. So you had a condensed trunk space, or you had a con condensed legroom.

Those things are a day of the past. They looked quirky. They had, low range. They had long charging times, and I take a look at this today, and none of these inconveniences are here today. So to have over 300 miles, to have over 500 horsepower, to have quick turnaround as an example, to have low drag coefficient it's now becoming benchmarks that ICE engines should be actually trying to be savoring around saying, how do we get to this as well?

Grayson Brulte:

I'll summarize it this way. Buckle up and go. You've probably got a lot. 

Gregor Hembrough:

Yeah, exactly. Quickly.

Grayson Brulte:

Yes, Gregor, putting this all together. Polestar is clearly on the right track to a bright future. In your opinion, what is the future of Polestar? 

Gregor Hembrough:

The future of Polestar will be one of electricity. It's an, it's going to be an EV brand.

We, my vision will be is one that we will actually be talking synonymously with the word Polestar, with other iconic automotive brands, but also iconic consumer-oriented brands. So when I talk about it from the hardware, so to speak, I. I've been very clear that Porsche continues to be one of the cars that we have endeavors that we'll be in a bullseye with as well.

So you could clearly see where my targets are set from a performance perspective, from a design perspective and everything else that goes around it, but also consumer oriented brands. It wasn't by any mistake that I use the word Amazon the convenience, the redefinition of how you consume products. I take a look at why can't my buying purchase and why can't my ownership experience be as easy as getting a car. As Amazon or I laugh when I say this, but DoorDash, these are things that we look at as app-based products that actually have a very low touch from a customer, but a high touch value. If I may. So these are things that continue when I take a look at, when, if we propel ourselves into 2026, 2027, from a hardware perspective, we'll be looking at iconic.

Brands as to be compared against and from a software perspective, not true software, but basically an offline online type of experience that customers have. Ease of ownership in the customer journey. I wanna be up there with the things such as Instacart, DoorDash. Amazon.com, those type of experiences, and that's not to discount anything from our Polestar spaces.

We need our Polestar spaces. They're very mature operators that basically are the connective tissue between me as the automotive manufacturer and our customers. They're very important to us. We've put a lot of effort and they've put a lot of effort into us as well, and collectively and collaboratively, we're trying to really redefine. The way customers go to market with not only the buying experience, but the ownership experience as well. 

Grayson Brulte:

When you redefine a market, you become a consumer brand. You have the ability to scale, you have stickiness around loyalty, and that stickiness will drive not first-time sales, but repeat sales.

Then perhaps you expand into other categories as consumer brands do, and we've all seen it with Amazon, how many different categories they've expanded to and over the years. Gregor, this has been a really wonderful conversation where you shed a really awesome positive light. On Polestar and where you're going in the future, as we look to wrap up this conversation, what would you like our listeners to take away with them today?

Gregor Hembrough:

I'd like to take 'em an opportunity to really lean into the brand, acquaint themselves with it, and have one brought to their driveway so they can experience it. Or if there's a Polestar space close to them, go in and experience the space. I think that you'll be very enamored with the product.

You'll be very enamored with everything you know about the brand or you get to know about the brand if you don't know already. 

Grayson Brulte: 

As Gregor so elegantly said, lean into the brand. Experience the brand. Today is tomorrow. Tomorrow is today. The future is Polestar. Gregor, thank you so much for coming on SAE tomorrow today.

Gregor Hembrough:

My pleasure. Thank you very much, Grayson.

Grayson Brulte:

Thank you for listening to SAE Tomorrow Today. If you've been enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more, please kindly rate, review and let us know what topics you'd like for us to explore next. 

SAE International makes no representations as to the accuracy of the information presented in this podcast. The information and opinions are for general information only. SAE International does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this podcast.


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