February 10, 2022
Table of Contents
IntroductionI have been wanting an electric vehicle for quite a while now. Before I started riding my electric bike I was already looking into going electric to save cost. Even when gasoline was cheap, it was still pretty expensive to commute in my pickup truck. We looked at smaller cars, like the Chevrolet Spark EV, and then once the Bolt EVs started coming off of lease, I decided to buy one of those used. The final piece of the puzzle was to wait for Alex's bonus to come in so we could just buy it with that. Well, the pandemic hit and along with it the components shortage, and car prices skyrocketed. A Bolt that was going for $13,500 in January was now going for well over $20,000.
While it makes no logical sense and I should have just bought the Bolt anyway, I couldn't rationalize spending that kind of money on a used EV that was a potential fire hazard. I wanted an inexpensive EV for local driving to various activities like disc golf and mountain biking, knowing that my end goal was actually an electric pickup. I put a deposit down for the F-150 Lightning the day it was announced, hoping Ford would be able to produce an affordable version that appealed to me, and could replace my V8 Chevrolet Silverado. Unfortunately, the initial versions are going to be quite expensive for an inadequate amount of towing range. While the truck is still in my sights, I am going to hold off until the technology improves. I can't justify having two pickups, and the Lightning won't be able to tow the boat out to the lake without a lot of hassle in the charging department. I'd have to keep my Silverado anyway, and then what's the point? I investigated renting a truck for road trips, but that, too, is prohibitively expensive vs. just keeping my paid-off truck. Maybe by 2025 there will be an option available that will work, so I'll keep holding onto that EV truck dream.
Instead, I went a different way and test drove a Polestar 2. It's significantly more expensive than my original budget, but since the truck wasn't going to happen for a few years, it makes a bit more sense. I initially started looking more closely at the Polestar because I liked the styling of the car. It actually has some character to it, and it doesn't look like a rolling jellybean. While this means it is going to be less efficient, it's still Good Enough™. It is also a four door sedan, and not an SUV or crossover. I really dislike those kinds of vehicles, and I hope the fad ends soon so we can go back to seeing good looking sedans on the road again. While I do have a Tesla solar system on my roof, and I believe the company is going to continue to do great things, their current vehicle design language is antithetical to what I prefer. I am not a fan of their interior options, and as mentioned before, they kind of look like rolling jellybeans to me. They are also so common around my neighborhood, I'm sick of looking at them.
So to sum it up, my specific wants for my first electric car were the following:
- A sedan body style
- Fabric or cloth seats (no leathery-feeling seats)
- Doesn't look radically different from a "normal" car
- A trailer hitch and/or roof rack option for bike transport
- Range is at least 120 miles (Rancho Cucamonga to/from various disc golf courses in southern California)
- Available in a reasonable time frame
Initial AcquisitionAfter reading tons online, and test driving the car, I decided I wanted to buy one. The car we drove was a dual motor variant with the Pilot and Plus packages. I didn't think the dual motors were entirely necessary, and the glass roof seemed like excess for no real benefit. The Pilot package was pretty cool, but another thing that I didn't really want to spend money on. I wanted to save some cash, so I spec'd out a single motor variant with minimal add-ons. I chose the Midnight Blue color, as well as the trailer hitch option, but that was it. I put the order in with it telling me that I could expect delivery in late March, which lined up perfectly with Alex's bonus. After a few days, the site updated to late June for delivery, which seemed way too far out for my liking. Additionally, Alex made it clear that her favorite part of the car was only available with the Pilot pack. Since a happy wife equals a happy life, I decided to cancel that initial order and add the Pilot package. After configuring it again, the Polestar site pointed out that there was a vehicle available for "Immediate" delivery. It was actually a dual motor variant, but it was Midnight Blue and had the Pilot package, basically everything we wanted and available immediately. It was more expensive by about $7000 with the two options, but we decided it was probably worth it.
The order was placed on January 21st, and at first the website showed that delivery was estimated for late January. Well, the main dashboard page said that, the details for the order showed differently though, stating February. Either way, it was close enough that it didn't matter, and so I went through the steps, specifying that I wanted to finance it (who wouldn't want to borrow nearly free money instead of dropping a huge chunk of savings?), having no trade-in, and not choosing any add-ons (the towbar hitch wasn't an option here). I filled out the credit application and submitted it, and then I waited. And waited. The website eventually updated about a week later stating that I got the credit terms requested, but I never got an email or any kind of contact from Polestar. I waited some more, hoping someone would contact me, and even tried chatting with Polestar via their site. The chat was not very helpful, it seems like the two people who run the entire Polestar support team are overworked or something. I was very disappointed that the only viable way to get any kind of information was to call the Polestar retailer that I specified for my order.
How can any company in the world today not be doing its primary business via the internet and not telephone? An email is so much more concise and leaves a paper trail for later reference. Thirty seconds after a phone call is over, humans (at least I) easily forget what they were going to do or all of what was discussed.I did finally get a response to my emails about the towbar but by the time I discussed it with a man named Scott, the vehicle had already been released for shipping from the port, and was no longer able to have the towbar added. That was unfortunate, but it saved me $1200. Instead, I requested that he add the roof cross bars for my bikes to the order, which he did, and is cheaper than the hitch. Relatedly, I ordered some Thule Proride XT roof bike racks for our bikes, since the roof is low enough on the car to be able to lift them up easy enough. That option came out slightly cheaper in the end, but I will still investigate adding the hitch. It looks like it's the same as one used on some Volvo vehicles, so it might be something I can buy and install myself.
Finally, a few days later a helpful man named Dimitri called me to let me know the status of the order and that he would be handling the rest of the transaction. After a few initial calls, all contact with him went silent. I waited another week for an update to the delivery date, and when none came, I called the main retailer number to ask if there was something happening with Dimitri. I was told he was out of the office, but Lonnie was able to tell me some crucial information. The car was in their hands at Polestar South Coast, he provided the VIN for my car so I could set up insurance for it, and let me know it was tentatively scheduled for delivery on Friday, February 10th.
Finally, on Thursday February 9th, I got a call from Polestar South Coast asking me what time I'd like to take delivery. I chose 1:30pm, and then waited patiently. Around 1:30pm on Friday, Madison from Polestar called letting me know he was in traffic, but about 30 minutes away. I checked the traffic conditions on Google Maps, and confirmed that there was indeed terrible traffic between the OC and my house. He did show up with the car about 2pm, as expected. What I wasn't expecting was him to just show up in my new car by himself. I asked about that, and he said that they do not have enough extra inventory to "burn" one as a chase vehicle, everything they have gets sold to customers. I asked about a truck and trailer to bring the vehicles to customers, but he didn't have a good answer for that, just speculation that it might be too expensive. After we were done, he would just call an Uber or Lyft and head back to his base of operations.
So the car was there and we took a quick look at it out on the street. It was better looking in person that on the internet! I was very happy with how it looked and so we went into the house to finish the paperwork. He was very courteous and checked with us before assuming anything. He informed us that he was fully vaccinated, but offered to wear his mask while in the house anyway. I told him it was unnecessary. Most of the paperwork was done online earlier in the morning, but there were a few DMV and loan forms that require physical signatures still. We sat down at the table and read through the forms. Everything looked good, the numbers all matched up what I was expecting, and so as the ink dried we went out to the car again to start learning about it.
Madison was great at explaining all of the functionality and features. I had already watched tons of videos ahead of time on all of the little features people have found on the car, so it all just made sense to me. Alex asked some hardball questions, like how long does the "free" internet last? 3 years. Does it have SiriusXM? Yes. I can't remember the length of the trial, but it's probably 3 months like most new cars. Finally, after we were happy with everything, Madison said his goodbyes and walked down the street. I assume he did it so he wasn't awkwardly waiting in front of our house for his ride, and I appreciated that. Overall, Madison was by far the best of all the folks I interacted with at Polestar.
InsuranceSo before the car arrived, I asked for the VIN so I could contact Liberty Mutual to get a quote and eventually set up the insurance for the new car. It was fairly difficult to actually accomplish, as their system had no idea what Polestar was. I eventually had to call the customer support number (again, what's with using telephone for important business?), and spoke to a helpful agent. We eventually got it all figured out, but not before she accidentally set it as a Volvo because I mentioned that Polestar was owned by the same parent company as Volvo. After the second try, she was able to add the vehicle to the insurance and let me know the identificaiton cards would get mailed out by the end of the week.
The cards came in the mail about a week later. All of them. I got two sets for it as Polestar but also I got a set as a Volvo! She made it far enough through the process that the cards were actually printed and sent out. I verified that I'm not paying insurance on both a Polestar and a Volvo, and tossed out the unnecessary cards. Liberty Mutual, you need to get your sh*t together, this isn't even the first model year of the Polestar 2, it should definitely be in your system by now.
ReviewI was originally going to write this review about a month after acquiring the vehicle. It has now been nearly five months so here are my thoughts. Coming from only ever owning gasoline powered cars, this thing is amazing. The instant torque, the high horsepower, the all-wheel drive provided by dual motors, they are all amazing and I am so happy that I bought this version of the car. So far we have only used the vehicle for fairly short trips around southern California, but we do have plans for a road trip to Utah soon.
After living with the car this long, I was on the verge of selling my truck. With the roof rack for transporting my bike, and the ample storage space in the trunk, it has replaced my truck for nearly everything I do around town. I've stepped back from the brink, and decided to keep the truck, but not due to any problems with the car, other than it's not a truck. We still need to be able to take large bags of recyclables to the local recycler and tow the boat to the lake. I've got a deposit in for a Silverado EV, but that's not coming for a couple of years at best, so in the meantime I'm holding on to the truck.
Anyway, back to the Polestar. It's so nice never having to visit a gas station to fill up. With the gas prices skyrocketing across the country basically a couple of weeks after we took delivery of the car in February, I avoided having to visit the gas station until our first lake trip in June. Our electrical panel is maxed out with our solar panels using up the remaining space, so I don't have an easy option for adding a Level 2 charger to the house. So far this hasn't been an issue, as the Level 1 trickle charging has been sufficient since I ride my bike to work every day. Also, because I'm limiting the charger to 8-10 amps at 120v, it doesn't pull more power than our solar panels can provide during the day. Occasionally if I drive a lot in a weekend, I'll stop at the L3 charger in Upland to top up, using the free 30-minute fast charging Polestar provides via Electrify America. We've been pretty much driving the car on "free" energy since we bought it. I'm working on an upgraded solar system to provide more juice for the car as well as offset our air conditioning, so the car will continue to be charged from the sun and not from the grid, and our electric bills will get even lower.
So far, five months in I am really enjoying the car and look forward to using it for a long time to come!
I'm not one to recommend products or services to anyone, as I feel it should be up to an individual to do their own research before coming to their own conclusions. Having said that, if I were to do it all over again and knowing what I know now about the car, I would definitely buy it again.