China

China’s GPS competitor is now fully launched

Posted by | Asia, Beidou, China, Government, gps, Logistics, Mobile, Policy | No Comments

For decades, the United States has had a monopoly on positioning, navigation and timing technology with its Global Positioning System (GPS), a constellation of satellites operated by the military that today provides the backbone for location on billions of devices worldwide.

As those technologies have become not just key to military maneuvers but the very foundation of modern economies, more and more governments around the world have sought ways to decouple from usage of the U.S.-centric system. Russia, Japan, India, the United Kingdom and the European Union have all made forays to build out alternatives to GPS, or at least, to augment the system with additional satellites for better coverage.

Few countries, though, have made the investment that China has made into its Beidou (北斗) GPS alternative. Over 20 years, the country has spent billions of dollars and launched nearly three dozen satellites to create a completely separate system for positioning. According to Chinese state media, nearly 70% of all Chinese handsets are capable of processing signals from Beidou satellites.

Now, the final puzzle piece is in place, as the last satellite in the Beidou constellation was launched Tuesday morning into orbit, according to the People’s Daily.

It’s just another note in the continuing decoupling of the United States and China, where relations have deteriorated over differences of market access and human rights. Trade talks between the two countries have reached a standstill, with one senior Trump administration advisor calling them off entirely. The announcement of a pause in new issuances of H-1B visas is also telling, as China is the source of the second largest number of petitions, according to USCIS, the country’s immigration agency.

While the completion of the current plan for Beidou offers Beijing new flexibility and resiliency for this critical technology, ultimately, positioning technologies are mostly not adversarial — additional satellites can offer more redundancy to all users, and many of these technologies have the potential to coordinate with each other, offering more flexibility to handset manufacturers.

Nonetheless, GPS spoofing and general hacking of positioning technologies remains a serious threat. Earlier this year, the Trump administration published a new executive order that would force government agencies to develop more robust tools to ensure that GPS signals are protected from hacking.

Given how much of global logistics and our daily lives are controlled by these technologies, further international cooperation around protecting these vital assets seems necessary. Now that China has its own fully working system, they have an incentive to protect their own infrastructure as much as the United States does to continue to provide GPS and positioning more broadly to the highest standards of reliability.

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Apple unveils iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur features for India, China and other international markets

Posted by | Apple, Asia, China, india, Indonesia, iOS, ireland, Japan, macos, messages, Mobile, Netflix, Norway, operating systems, siri | No Comments

Apple will roll out a range of new features and improvements that are aimed at users in India, China and other international markets with its yearly updates to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS operating systems, it unveiled today.

iOS 14, which is rolling out to developers today and will reach general users later this year, introduces new bilingual dictionaries to support French and German; Indonesia and English; Japanese and Simplified Chinese; and Polish and English. For its users in China, one of Apple’s biggest overseas markets, the iPhone-maker said the new operating system will introduce support for Wubi keyboard.

For users in India, Apple is adding 20 new document fonts and upgrading 18 existing fonts with “more weights and italics” to give people greater choices. For those living in the world’s second largest internet market, Mail app now supports email addresses in Indian script.

Apple said it will also deliver a range of additional features for India, building on the big momentum it kickstarted last year.

Messages now feature corresponding full-screen effects when users send greetings such as “Happy Holi” in one of the 23 Indian local languages.

More interestingly, iOS 14 will include smart downloads, which will allow users in India to download Indian Siri voices and software updates as well as download and stream Apple TV+ shows over cellular networks — a feature that is not available elsewhere in the world.

The feature further addresses the patchy networks that are prevalent in India — despite major improvements in recent years. Last year, Apple beamed a feature for users in India that enabled users in the nation to set an optimized time of the day in on-demand streaming apps such as Hotstar and Netflix for downloading videos.

New improvements further shows Apple’s growing focus on India, the world’s second largest smartphone market. Apple chief executive Tim Cook said earlier this year that the company will launch its online store in the country later this year, and open its first physical store next year. A source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch last month that the global pandemic had not affected the plan.

iOS 14 will also allow users in Ireland and Norway to utilize the autocorrection feature as the new update adds support for Irish Gaelic and Norwegian Nynorsk. And there’s also a redesigned Kana keyboard for Japan, which will enable users there to type numbers with repeated digits more easily on the redesigned Numbers and Symbols plane.

All the aforementioned features — except email addresses in Indian script in Mail and smart downloads for users in India — will also ship with iPadOS 14. And the aforementioned new bilingual dictionaries, new fonts for India, and localized messages are coming to macOS Big Sur.

Additionally, Apple says on the desktop operating system it has also enhanced predictive input for Chinese and Japanese results in more accurate and contextual predictions.

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Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band 5 sports bigger display and new wireless charging system — and starts at $27

Posted by | Android, Asia, China, hardware, Health, spongebob squarepants, Wearables, Xiaomi | No Comments

One of the world’s best selling wearable lineups just added a new gadget to the mix.

Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi today unveiled the Mi Smart Band 5 that delivers several improvements and adds features, such as a bigger screen, new wireless charging system and women’s health mode over the company’s one-year-old Mi Smart Band 4 — while retaining its dirt-cheap price point.

The Mi Smart Band 5 features a 1.1-inch AMOLED display that is 20% larger than the one its immediate predecessor sported.

With the new band, the world’s second largest wearable vendor is also bringing a range of new animated watch faces, including characters from TV series such as Spongebob Squarepants, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Detective Conan, and eight colorful straps.

Xiaomi says the new smart band is powered by an improved processor — the name of which it did not specify — to enable tracking of menstrual cycles for the first time, and support additional features such as stress assessment that will tell the wearer when it’s a good time to relax.

The Mi Smart Band 5, compatible with iPhones as well as Android handsets, also monitors the wearer’s sleep cycle more efficiently now, adding support for REM sleep as well as evaluating deep and light sleep sessions. The company claimed its heart-rate monitoring is now 50% more precise.

One of the biggest improvements in the new band is its new charging system. This is a refreshing change as previous models in Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band lineup have received complaints from users who described having to get the tracker out of the strap as a clumsy process. Now the company says its new magnetic charging dock automatically snaps onto the bottom of the band. Charging the band once delivers up to 14-days of continuous usage.

Like the Mi Smart Band 4, the Band 5 supports the company’s homegrown digital voice assistant XiaoAI that a user can trigger by swiping to the right of the display.

There is an additional variant of the Smart Band 5 that supports NFC. This model features support for mobile payment services, and can be used to unlock smart doors and also serve as a transportation card at select subways.

The Mi Smart Band 5 goes on sale in China next week at a price point of RMB 189 ($26.75) while the NFC variant of the band is priced at RMB 229 ($32.5). The company says the device will be made available in international markets “soon.”

Xiaomi continues to be one of the leading players in the wearable market as it aggressively refreshes and introduces new devices. In November last year, Xiaomi debuted its first smartwatch — called the Mi Watch —  that looks strikingly similar to the Apple Watch. The Mi Watch is priced at $185.

According to research firm IDC, the company shipped 10.1 million wearable devices in the quarter that ended in March this year. It is ahead of Samsung, Huawei and Fitbit. Apple maintains its top spot in the category.

Data: IDC

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Google pulls ‘Remove China Apps’ from Play Store

Posted by | Android, Apps, Asia, bytedance, China, Google Play, Google Play Store, india, New Delhi, tiktok | No Comments

Remove China Apps, an app that gained popularity in India in recent weeks and did exactly what its name suggests, has been pulled from the Play Store.

The top trending app in India, which was downloaded more than 5 million times since late May and enabled users to detect and easily delete apps developed by Chinese firms, was pulled from Android’s marquee app store for violating Google Play Store’s Deceptive Behaviour Policy, TechCrunch has learned.

Under this policy an app on Google Play Store cannot make changes to a user’s device settings, or features outside of the app without the user’s knowledge and consent, and not it can encourage or incentivize users into removing or disabling third-party apps.

The app, developed by Indian firm OneTouch AppLabs, gained popularity in India in part because of a growing anti-China sentiment among many citizens as tension between the world’s two most populous nations has escalated in recent days over a Himalayan border dispute.

Several Indian celebrities in recent days have backed the idea of deleting Chinese apps. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev tweeted a video over the weekend that showed him deleting several apps that had affiliation with China.

Responding to a tweet from an Indian actor deleting TikTok from his phone, Nupur Sharma, a spokeswoman for India’s ruling party BJP, said it was “great to see concerned citizens setting an example” and “we ought to hit them where it hurts most.”

Citing an industry source, Chinese state-run Global Times news outlet reported on Tuesday that if the Indian government allows the “irrational anti-China sentiment” to continue it risks ruining bilateral relations that is “likely to draw tit-for-tat punishment from Beijing.”

The report added that some users in China ridiculed Remove China Apps and urged Indians to “throw away” their smartphones, referring to Chinese smartphone makers’ dominance in India’s smartphone market.

If the sentiment from India persists, it could mean bad news for several Chinese firms such as ByteDance and UC Browser that count India as their biggest overseas market. TikTok, which weeks ago was grappling with content moderation efforts in India, sparked a new debate over the weekend after a popular creator claimed that a video she posted on TikTok was pulled by the Chinese firm.

The video was critical of the Chinese government, she said. In a statement to TechCrunch, a TikTok spokesperson said the platform welcomes diversity of users and viewpoints and said it had implemented a more rigorous review process and reinstated the video.

In April, India amended its foreign direct investment policy to enforce tougher scrutiny on Chinese investors looking to cut checks to firms in the world’s second largest internet market. New Delhi, which maintains a similar stand for investors from several other neighboring nations, said the measure was introduced to “curb the opportunistic takeover” of Indian firms going through distress because of the global pandemic.

India’s Prime Minister Modi has also aggressively promoted the idea of boycotting goods made by foreign firms and advised the nation’s 1.3 billion citizens to look for local alternatives as part of his push to make India “self-reliant” and revive the slowing economy.

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Fitbit’s Chinese rival Amazfit mulls a transparent, self-disinfecting mask

Posted by | Asia, biotech, China, Gadgets, GoPro, huami, huawei, shenzhen, smartwatch, TC, wearable devices, Xiaomi | No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a wave of Chinese companies with manufacturing operations to produce virus-fighting equipment: Shenzhen-based electric vehicle giant BYD quickly moved to launch what it claims to be the world’s largest mask plant; Hangzhou-based voice intelligence startup Rokid is making thermal imaging glasses targeted at the US market; and many more.

The latest of such efforts comes from Huami, the NASDAQ-listed wearables startup that makes Xiaomi’s Mi Bands and sells its own fitness tracking watches under the Amazfit brand in more than 70 countries. In a phone interview with TechCrunch, the firm said it is developing a see-through plastic mask with built-in ultraviolet lights that can disinfect filters within 10 minutes when connected to a power supply through a USB port. The caveat is that the lights only sanitize the inside of the mask and users still have to clean the outer surface themselves.

The Aeri concept comes with built-in ultraviolet lights that can disinfect filters within 10 minutes when connected to a power supply through a USB port.

Called Aeri, the mask uses removable filters that are on par with N95 filtration capacity. If the concept materializes, each filter could last up to a month and a half, significantly longer than the average life of surgical masks and N95 respirators. The modular design allows for customized accessories such as a fan for breathable comfort, hence the mask’s name Aeri, a homophone of “airy”.

Aeri started from the premise that wearing masks could thwart the increasingly common adoption of facial recognition. That said, imaging companies have been working on biometric upgrades to allow analyses of other facial features such as irises or the tip of noses.

Aeri might still have a market appeal though, argued Pengtao Yu, vice president of industrial design at Huami. “Whether people need to unlock their phones or not, they want to see each other’s faces at social occasions,” said Yu, the California-based Chinese designer who had served clients including Nest Labs, Roku, GoPro and Huawei prior to joining Huami.

Huami’s U.S. operation, which focuses on research and development, opened in 2014 and now counts a dozen of employees.

Many companies turning to pandemic-fighting manufacturing have taken a hit from their core business, but Huami has managed to stay afloat. Its Q1 revenue was up 36% year-over-year to hit $154 million, although net income decreased to $2.7 million from $10.6 million. Its stocks have been declining, however, sliding from a high point of $16 in January to around $10 in mid-May.

Huami is in the process of prototyping the Aeri masks. In Shenzhen, which houses the wearables company’s headquarters, the development cycle for hardware products — from ideation to market rollout — takes as short as 6-12 months thanks to the city’s rich supply chain resources, said Yu.

Huami hasn’t priced Aeri at this early stage, but Yu admitted that the masks are targeting the “mass consumer market” around the world, not only for protection against viruses but also everyday air pollution, rather than appealing to medical workers. Given Huami’s history of making wearables at thin margins, it won’t be surprising that Aeri will be competitively priced.

The Aeri project is part of Huami’s pivot to enter the general health sector beyond pure fitness monitoring. The company has recently teamed up with a laboratory led by Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the public face of China’s fight against COVID-19, to track respiratory diseases using wearables. It’s also in talks with the German public health authority to collaborate on a smartwatch-powered virus monitoring app, the company told TechCrunch.

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China’s smartphone shipments are reportedly up for April, following COVID-19-fueled decline

Posted by | Apple, articles, Asia, China, coronavirus, COVID-19, Europe, hardware, huawei, Mobile, north america, pandemic, smartphone, telecommunications, United States | No Comments

Smartphone shipments are reportedly beginning to see signs of life in China, after a sizable dip from the COVID-19 pandemic. New numbers from China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (a government-connected agency) point to a 17% rise in shipments for April, pointing to some recovery for the market.

The figure, from the China state-supported group, is virtually a mirror reflection of the 18% dip Canalys reported for Q1. COVID-19 was the primary culprit for those figures, through a combination of decreased spending among China’s phone-buying public and sizable supply chain constraints, as many Asian nations were on lockdown to slow the spread.

Both Huawei and Apple benefited from the rebound, though Reuters notes that the firm opted not to include an OS breakdown for the first time in a while, making it more difficult to parse market share.

Smartphone shipments have suffered across the board, along with countless other industries. A rebound for China’s market could be a bellwether for positive numbers for the industry moving forward — especially given the country’s close ties to the global supply chain. In spite of being the first country hit, China’s official figures for COVID-19 deaths have remained low, compared to countries in Europe and North America.

That’s likely due in part to some draconian measures used to stop the spread. Other countries (the U.S. in particular) may not be so likely to rebound from the pandemic, leading to a more protracted impact on the global market. 

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Ex-Tesla product exec raises $10 million for his mission to upgrade the lowly fuse box

Posted by | Android, Arch Rao, california, Capricorn Investment Group, China, Congruent Ventures, energy, executive, fiction, Hardware Club, hawaii, LG, matt rogers, mobile phones, Nest, online sales, power, SunRun, TC, Tesla | No Comments

Arch Rao closed the $10.1 million financing round for Span, his company pitching homeowners on an upgrade to the fuse box, in the middle of February.

The company had already seen what was happening in China and had a sense of how tough things could be, but was undeterred by the bad news and its potential implications for fundraising or its business.

“I don’t think that the COVID situation was particularly negative,” for the Span business, said Rao. Indeed, Rao said things are already beginning to recover. “With the shelter in place being partially lifted [and] with solar and storage installation having been deemed essential… the large installers like SunRun saw their online sales had increased,” Rao said. “The limitation of this pandemic has been a shift of about a quarter for our upward slope to take effect.”

The forced downtime actually helped the company, said Rao, which worked on new product development and readied itself for what could be a busy season of sales. The pressures that are pushing customers to adopt solar and energy storage technologies — especially in states like California — haven’t gone away.

The state looks prepped for another bad season of wildfires and the stress of power outages and rolling blackouts could again drive owners to invest in off-grid power generation and storage, he said.

But Rao sees Span as far more than just a smart fuse box. Sitting at the intersection of the utility energy grid and the home electrical network gives Span’s device a unique vantage point from which to monitor and manage devices in the home and energy coming to or from it.

And he’s gotten some unique, expert validation of his vision in the form of an investment from Matt Rogers, one of the founders of Nest, which was the first billion dollar company to try and tackle home energy use and efficiency.

Through his investment firm, Incite Ventures, Rogers participated in the latest round for Span. 

 “We founded Nest to reinvent the largest energy user at home, the thermostat. We replaced an ugly household device with something that invited interaction and saved energy,” Rogers said in a statement. “Span has the potential to solve that for every load in the home. That’s why I’ve come on board as an investor to Span and an advisor to Arch.”

Image courtesy of Span

 Rao’s vision for Span is just as expansive as the original idea that brought Nest to the world. 

“Think of our software stack being very similar to an android device,” said Rao. “We have first party apps that Span is deploying and will offer an up our [sotware development kit] that third party vendors will use.”

A user can download the app and select the circuits or loads that they would want to allow an outside vendor to control in exchange for some kind of economic benefit, according to Rao.

“We’re trying to bring what the mobile industry has done for the last decade is an analogous model to what we want to bring in to the digital energy space,” Rao said. Given that the panel sits in a home for roughly thirty years, there’s an opportunity to lock customers in to the Span platform in a way that mobile phones never could.

Some partnerships — like the one Span has signed with battery supplier LG (a company that also makes appliances) gives an idea of the breadth of Rao’s vision.

“LG is a home appliance manufacturer and the road map is for us to tie into other home appliances as well,” said Rao. “You can extrapolate from that to the world of home appliances.”

Investors in the $10.1 million round for the company were led by ArcTern Ventures and joined by new backers Capricorn Investment Group, Incite Ventures. Previous financiers in the company included Wireframe Ventures, Congruent Ventures, Ulu Ventures, Energy Foundry, Hardware Club, 1/0 Capital, and Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, and some of those firms returned for the new funding, the company said.

Driving their interest was the company’s position at the intersection between the grid and the home — and its attendant ability to monitor and control onside generation, storage and the majority of a consumer’s energy loads.  

The company is focusing its initial sales efforts on the markets of Hawaii and California where strong government incentives can help to subsidize costs and drive demand, the company said.

In addition to the new investment round, Mary Powell, former chief executive of Vermont utility Green Mountain Power will join Span’s board as an independent member. Powell and Rao have a relationship that dates back to the startup executive’s work with Tesla. 

“She set an example of what a customer-focused utility could look like, bringing the Tesla Powerwall to thousands of customers in the state of Vermont,” said Rao. “I’m excited to work with her again as we bring our panel to market.”

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TikTok tops 2 billion downloads

Posted by | Android, Apple, Apps, bytedance, China, Code Against COVID-19, Facebook, Google Play Store, instagram, Media, Messenger, Mobile, Social, tiktok, WhatsApp | No Comments

TikTok, the widely popular video sharing app developed by one of the world’s most valued startups (ByteDance), continues to grow rapidly despite suspicion from the U.S. as more people look for ways to keep themselves entertained amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The global app and its Chinese version, called Douyin, have amassed over 2 billion downloads on Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, mobile insight firm Sensor Tower said Wednesday.

TikTok is the first app after Facebook’s marquee app, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger to break past the 2 billion downloads figure since January 1 of 2014, a Sensor Tower official told TechCrunch. (Sensor Tower began its app analysis on that date.)

A number of apps from Google, the developer of Android, including Gmail and YouTube, have amassed over 5 billion downloads, but they ship pre-installed on most Android smartphones and tables.

TikTok’s 2 billion download milestone, a key metric to assess an app’s growth, comes five months after it surpassed 1.5 billion downloads.

In the quarter that ended on March 31, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times — the highest number of downloads for any app in a quarter and — surpassing its previous best of 205.7 million downloads in Q4 2018. Facebook’s WhatsApp, the second most popular app by volume of downloads, amassed nearly 250 million downloads in Q1 this year, Sensor Tower told TechCrunch.

As the app gains popularity, it is also clocking more revenue. Users have spent about $456.7 million on TikTok to date, up from $175 million five months ago. Much of this spending — about 72.3% — has happened in China. Users in the United States have spent about $86.5 million on the app, making the nation the second most important market for TikTok from the revenue standpoint.

Craig Chapple, a strategist at Sensor Tower, said that not all the downloads are as organic as TikTok, which launched outside of China in 2017 and has engaged in a “large user acquisition campaign.” But he attributed some of the surge in downloads to the COVID-19 outbreak that has driven more people than ever to look for new apps.

India, TikTok’s largest international market, accounts for 30.3% of the app’s downloads, according to Sensor Tower. The app has been downloaded 611 million times in the world’s second largest internet market.

From a platform’s standpoint, 75.5% of all of TikTok’s downloads have occurred through Google Play Store. But the vast majority of spending has come from users on Apple’s ecosystem ($435.3 million of $456 million).

TikTok’s parent firm ByteDance, which was valued at $75 billion two years ago, counts Bank of China, Bank of America, Barclays Bank, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, SoftBank Group, General Atlantic, and Sequoia Capital China among some of its investors.

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Indian smartphone market grew by 4% in Q1, but projected to decline by 10% this year

Posted by | Apple, Asia, China, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid19, Gadgets, Mobile, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, smartphone, smartphones, vivo, Xiaomi | No Comments

India has emerged as one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the last decade, reporting growth each quarter even as handset shipments slowed or declined elsewhere globally. But the world’s second largest smartphone is beginning to feel the coronavirus heat, too.

The Indian smartphone market grew by a modest 4% year-over-year in the quarter that ended on March 31, research firm Counterpoint said Friday evening. The shipment grew annually in January and February, when several firms launched their smartphones and unveiled aggressive promotional plans.

But in March the shipment saw a 19% year-over-year dip, the firm said. Counterpoint estimated that the smartphone shipments in India will decline by 10% this year, compared to a 8.9% growth in 2019 and 10% growth in 2018.

The research firm also cautioned that India’s lockdown, ordered last month, has severely slowed down the local smartphone industry and it may take seven to eight months to get back on track. Currently, only select items such as grocery products are permitted to be sold in India.

Prachir Singh, Senior Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said the COVID-19 impact on India was relatively mild until mid-March. “However, economic activities declined as people save money in expectation of an extended period of uncertainty and an almost complete lockdown. Almost all smartphone manufacturing has been suspended. Further, with the social distancing norms, factories will be running at lower capacities even after the lockdown is lifted,” he said.

Overall, 31 million smartphone units shipped in India in Q1 2020. Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which has held the tentpole position in what has become its biggest market globally for more than two years, widened its lead to command 30% of the market.

Vivo’s share grew to 17%, up from 12% during the same period last year. Samsung, which once led the Indian market, now sits at the third spot with 16% market share, down from 24% in Q1 2019. Apple maintained its recent momentum and grew by a strong 78% year-over-year in Q1 this year. It now commands 55% of the premium smartphone segment (handsets priced at $600 or above.).

More than 100 smartphone plants in India assemble or produce about 700,000 to 800,000 handsets a day, some of which are exported outside of the country. But the lockdown has halted the production and could cost the industry more than $3 billion to $4 billion in direct loss this year.

“We often draw parallels between India and China. But in China, their factories have adopted automation at various levels, something that is not the case in India,” said Tarun Pathak, a senior analyst at Counterpoint, earlier this week.

China, where smartphone sales declined by 38% annually in February this year, has already started to see recovery. Xiaomi said last month that its phone factories were already operating at more than 80% of their capacity. Globally, smartphone shipment declined by 14% in February, according to Counterpoint.

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Polestar’s first all-electric vehicle will start at $59,900 in the US

Posted by | Android, automotive, automotive industry, california, cars, China, electric vehicles, Europe, Geely, Google Assistant, Google Play Store, Google-Maps, linux, New York, operating system, Polestar, smartphones, TC, Tesla, tesla model 3, United States, Volvo Cars, west coast | No Comments

Polestar, the electric performance brand spun out of Volvo, said the base price of its first all-electric vehicle will be $59,900 in the United States, lower than originally targeted.

The 2021 Polestar 2, an electric performance fastback, is the first EV to come out of a brand that was relaunched three years ago. Polestar, once a high-performance brand under Volvo Cars, was recast as an electric performance brand in 2017. The aim was to produce exciting and fun-to-drive electric vehicles — a niche that Tesla was the first to fill and has dominated ever since.

The company believes the vehicle is well-positioned for a successful entry into the U.S. market thanks to its lower pricing, tax incentives and the ability for customers to buy it online, said Gregor Hembrough, who heads up Polestar USA. The U.S. prices are also below incentive thresholds in a few critical markets such as California and New York.

Polestar has been trickling out announcements around the upcoming Polestar 2 for months now, including pricing for Europe, which starts at €58,800. On Thursday, the company revealed a few more pricing details for the various options customers can buy, including a $5,000 performance pack, a $4,000 upgrade of Nappa leather interior and $1,200 for 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Polestar 2 will likely be held up as a possible competitor to the Tesla Model 3. The pricing on the two vehicles don’t quite match up unless the $7,500 federal tax incentive, for which Polestar still qualifies, is considered. Tesla no longer qualifies for the federal tax credit because it has sold more than 200,000 electric vehicles.

Stripping out the incentives, the base price of the Polestar 2 is slightly more expensive than the performance version of the Model 3, which starts at $56,990.

Until the automaker begins delivery to the U.S., which is expected this summer, it won’t be clear how it stacks up against the Model 3.

Polestar is aiming to attract customers with tech and the performance specs of the fastback, which produces 408 horsepower, 487 pound feet of torque and has a 78 kWh battery pack that delivers an estimated range of 292 miles under Europe’s WLTP. Polestar hasn’t released the EPA estimates for the Polestar 2.

The interior of the Polestar 2, which features Google’s Android Automotive operating system.

The Polestar 2’s infotainment system will be powered by Android OS and, as a result, bring into the car embedded Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store. This shouldn’t be confused with Android Auto, which is a secondary interface that lies on top of an operating system. Android OS is modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. But instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so it could be used in cars.

Polestar, which is jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding of China, plans to open physical retail showrooms called Polestar Spaces once stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted. The first of these locations will open on the West Coast of the United States and New
York in late summer 2020, the company said. The Polestar 2 will be available in all 50 states to buy or lease.

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