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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/6/22 10:08 a.m.

An interesting tidbit that appeared in my inbox this morning from Polestar.

The TL;DR is that Polestar will sell Polestar 2 owners (in the U.S. and Canada) an over-the-air update that adds 68 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft of torque, bringing total output to 476 hp and 502 lb.-ft of torque.

Total cost? $1195–and Polestar notes the update is a permanent upgrade.

So, is 68 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft of torque worth $1195?

 

Full release below for those who want to read it:

Polestar announces 68 horsepower performance software upgrade for North American customers

Polestar (Nasdaq: PSNY), the Swedish electric performance car brand, has released an affordable performance software upgrade for the Long range Dual motor Polestar 2 in North America, raising the vehicle’s power output by 68 horsepower to a total of 476 hp. This upgrade marks the first time that Polestar has applied its software tuning heritage to an electric car, which is available to customers in the United States and Canada via an Over-the-Air (OTA) download. The permanent upgrade is a one-time cost of $1,195, delivering exceptional value without the hassle of a subscription.

The upgrade adds 68 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft of torque to the existing 408 hp and 487 lb.-ft of torque produced by the dual-motor powertrain, for a total output of 476 hp and 502 lb.-ft. Because the upgrade is software-based, the boost in performance can be downloaded directly to the vehicle without a trip to a Polestar service point, a quick and convenient process for any eligible Polestar owner. The OTA download is available online for eligible owners now in the Polestar Shop website, which is located at www.polestar-shop.com.

Behind the wheel, the performance boost offers increased responsiveness and a sportier experience overall, and the 0-60 mph sprint time has been reduced to 4.2 seconds. The additional power and torque are primarily felt at speeds between 44 and 80 mph, resulting in even, rapid mid-range acceleration. With this upgrade, accelerating from 50 to 75 mph takes just 2.2 seconds – half a second quicker than a standard dual-motor Polestar 2.

“This upgrade highlights how connected technologies can transform the relationship a car company has with its customers,” said Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar. “The driving experience in Polestar 2 is something we are really proud of. It is such a fun car to drive already, but with this upgrade we can offer even more to our customers who might be after a little extra excitement.”

The ability to order the upgrade online for remote download provides a seamless experience for Polestar customers and highlights the brand’s proficiency in the increasingly digital automotive world. To learn more about the upgrade, please visit the Polestar website here.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 10:13 a.m.

That's about as cheap as a power upgrade gets, especially with factory backing.

The similar Tesla "acceleration boost" is $2000 for roughly 50 hp and 50 lb-ft and a similar drop on 0-60. In both cases, the cars are already pretty ate up with motor - they're not exactly having trouble keeping up with the traffic flow!

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
12/6/22 10:14 a.m.

There's MX-5 turbo kits that add that kind of power for way more money, if we're going to use that as a yardstick...

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/6/22 10:19 a.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

That's exactly the sort of yardstick I was looking for. $1000 does seem like a good deal for nearly 70 horsepower.

I also really appreciate that the upgrade is not being offered as a subscription.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 10:22 a.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

And they don't come with a factory warranty either! But they require a whole lot of new parts that weren't there from the factory, so of course they're going to be spendy. Increasing the power of a revvy naturally aspirated engine is always expensive.

A better analogy would be a factory reflash or an upgrade kit that involves minimal parts, and forced induction is pretty much a requirement. Like this Ecoboost Mustang upgrade from Ford Performance, $735 for 35 hp and 76 lb-ft. The press releases talk about them passing durability tests, but comments of the effect on warranty  are notable by their absence.

Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
12/6/22 10:36 a.m.

Lemme put it to you this way: I've spent more for less.

 

I've also spent more for more, and about the same for whole vehicles. If it were my money, I'd probably do it and then regret that I don't go flat out as much as I should.

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
12/6/22 10:37 a.m.

This is a 17% increase in hp, and 3% increase in torque. In all fairness, the similar Miata hp increases are a 70+% increase.

Still, at $17.65/hp this is about as cheap as factory backed power gets.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 10:46 a.m.

I paid $649 for my last HP boost. That bought me 65 hp and 84 lbft of torque but came without any OEM support. 

I'd say the price is inline for an OEM supplied tune.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
12/6/22 10:49 a.m.

I mean, a 22hp Predator 670 V-Twin runs $900 new, so yeah, I'd say by that metric, that's a steal.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/6/22 11:01 a.m.

"Worth" is difficult.

Pocket $1200 and have "only" 408hp in a car whose use case is mostly DD?

OTOH $1200 almost seems lost in the noise on a new Polestar, and if it makes me giggle a little more on those occasions I can unleash it for a second or two?

I don't think I can rationalize it, but I might do it anyway. Or maybe I wouldn't and would tell myself I just had a $1200 windfall I could do anything silly with. New PC. Drag home an absurd motorcycle or car from CL. Sign up for a season of track days, or that dirt bike training day thing *and* a mountain bike skills camp.

It might be reasonable, but I'm not sure it's my favorite use of $1200.

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
12/6/22 11:07 a.m.

The polestar 2 in all black is the car i saw at dusk and couldn't identify but really liked. 

Thanks! Youve made me a little calmer. Thought i was losing it....

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 12:16 p.m.
Jesse Ransom said:

"Worth" is difficult.

Pocket $1200 and have "only" 408hp in a car whose use case is mostly DD?

OTOH $1200 almost seems lost in the noise on a new Polestar, and if it makes me giggle a little more on those occasions I can unleash it for a second or two?

I don't think I can rationalize it, but I might do it anyway. Or maybe I wouldn't and would tell myself I just had a $1200 windfall I could do anything silly with. New PC. Drag home an absurd motorcycle or car from CL. Sign up for a season of track days, or that dirt bike training day thing *and* a mountain bike skills camp.

It might be reasonable, but I'm not sure it's my favorite use of $1200.

Yeah, it's not a slam-dunk decision. The car's not slow to begin with. Is it worth $1200 to make it faster? To some, sure. To others, definitely not.

I decided not to pony up for the Tesla equivalent. The car has no lack of acceleration, and its job is not to be the primary perfomance vehicle in the household. But if I was autocrossing it, I sure would have upgraded.

porschenut
porschenut HalfDork
12/6/22 12:31 p.m.

But it is software.  No mechanical upgrades at all.  Just a couple geeks in the closet who wrote some new code.  Or maybe they wrote code to reduce power when it was released so now they can get another grand for no additional cost.   In a few years some hacker will have figured out the code and will offer it for a hundred bucks.  Not insulting those who write code, they are the kings of tech now.  And a bump in power like this without getting one's hand dirty is pretty cool too.   Just suffering a case of Grumpy Old Guy Syndrome this week.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/6/22 12:35 p.m.

It's a lot less than I paid for a 45 to ~90 HP bump in my Spitfire. 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia UltraDork
12/6/22 12:38 p.m.

How many more $1200 upgrades are still in that power train ?

each Christmas can they offer you another 50hp with a new upgrade ?

Any how much will you ever use this extra HP ?

Would I pay it.....umm if I was racing  why not ,  if it's only "bragging rights"  then I hope I get a Tshirt in the deal  :)

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 12:41 p.m.

In reply to porschenut :

Welcome to the world of reflashes.

I suspect the cost is also to amortize the cost of increased warranty claims. GM's LS376/525 crate motor is priced like this. The controller for the 525 is more expensive than the controller for the "stock" 430, but it's the same hardware with a different tune - and the same warranty. And heck, the geeks in the closet are always coming out with new code. Our EV is both more powerful and more efficient now than it was 4 years ago due to code optimization. Unofficial power upgrades are also available for the Tesla to some extent, my car came with a bigger rear motor but not the software to take advantage of it. Until a change in the firmware that froze the configuration, it was possible to unlock that big motor with the right hacker.

mr2peak
mr2peak Dork
12/6/22 12:59 p.m.

Does this feel the same to you all as dropping a flash tune onto a new BMW/Merc/whatever? I know it's the same, it's just software, but for some reason it just doesn't feel.. as good? As real?

Maybe I just have a stigma towards throttled electronics?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 1:01 p.m.

Maybe it's optimized code that wasn't available when the car came out. My desktop computer runs a more advanced, more capable operating system than it did when it was new. Was it being throttled? This is exactly the same as flashing an ICE.

 

You would have loved the MINI One from around the turn of the century. Same hardware as the MINI Cooper, but the DBW throttle just didn't go to 100%.

jr02518
jr02518 HalfDork
12/6/22 1:08 p.m.

Does that new "flash" make the brakes any better?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 1:19 p.m.

Does the Ford Performance upgrade for the Ecoboost Mustang make the brakes any better?

Single stop distances will not be affected, of course. I wonder if regen is any stronger? Probably not, but it is possible.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/22 1:35 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Maybe it's optimized code that wasn't available when the car came out. My desktop computer runs a more advanced, more capable operating system than it did when it was new. Was it being throttled? This is exactly the same as flashing an ICE.

The difference is that it's from the OEM and still backed by the warranty.  When you buy a flash tune you're buying it from a 3rd party, with the understanding that it's pushing the car beyond the OEM limits and that you will shorten the life of the engine.  You're left asking the question why isn't this software included with the base level car?  When you buy a flash tune you're buying it from a 3rd party, with the understanding that it's pushing the car beyond the OEM limits and that you will shorten the life of the engine, and that's why Audi or BMW or whoever didn't include it from the factory.  And sure, maybe it's new software that wasn't available when your car was sold, but then why are new examples of the current car still sold with the old software?  Microsoft doesn't make you buy a new computer with Windows 7 and then charge you to upgrade to Windows 10.

More generally, people don't like paying for software.  They're mostly OK with it when the software and hardware come from different companies (although piracy is still rampant), but when one company wants to charge you twice it annoys people.  Don't sell me hardware and then charge me again for the right to use that hardware.  At least this isn't a monthly subscription, although it's not clear if that speed upgrade is transferrable when you sell the car.

I'm not saying all of this is rational -- I write software for a living so I'm fully aware that it has distinct value and that if people want that value they should be willing to pay for it.  The fact remains though that many people aren't rational when it comes to this, and business models need to take that irrationality into account if they want to avoid turning off potential customers.

 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
12/6/22 1:37 p.m.

If we look at it as a simple software update, that's a lot of coin. 

If we look at it in terms of HP gained per dollar, it's relatively cheap. 

If we look at it the way it should be dissected, why isn't it just sold this way? I mean this is worlds better than the Mercedes subscription bullE36 M3 for more power. This type of nonsense is what I suspected from the EV world. "Come to the 'cleaner' side so we can regulate every last bit of your car from over the air updates and microtransactions."

Also, that means someone who is savvy enough could just crack the onboard software to upgrade this themselves.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 1:52 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
Keith Tanner said:

Maybe it's optimized code that wasn't available when the car came out. My desktop computer runs a more advanced, more capable operating system than it did when it was new. Was it being throttled? This is exactly the same as flashing an ICE.

The difference is that it's from the OEM and still backed by the warranty.  When you buy a flash tune you're buying it from a 3rd party, with the understanding that it's pushing the car beyond the OEM limits and that you will shorten the life of the engine.  You're left asking the question why isn't this software included with the base level car?  When you buy a flash tune you're buying it from a 3rd party, with the understanding that it's pushing the car beyond the OEM limits and that you will shorten the life of the engine, and that's why Audi or BMW or whoever didn't include it from the factory.  And sure, maybe it's new software that wasn't available when your car was sold, but then why are new examples of the current car still sold with the old software?  Microsoft doesn't make you buy a new computer with Windows 7 and then charge you to upgrade to Windows 10.

More generally, people don't like paying for software.  They're mostly OK with it when the software and hardware come from different companies (although piracy is still rampant), but when one company wants to charge you twice it annoys people.  Don't sell me hardware and then charge me again for the right to use that hardware.  At least this isn't a monthly subscription, although it's not clear if that speed upgrade is transferrable when you sell the car.

I'm not saying all of this is rational -- I write software for a living so I'm fully aware that it has distinct value and that if people want that value they should be willing to pay for it.  The fact remains though that many people aren't rational when it comes to this, and business models need to take that irrationality into account if they want to avoid turning off potential customers.

 

But if you can get that reflash from an OEM, it's exactly the same. Not all reflashes are from the aftermarket - and that's true of EVs and ICE. 

And I'm pretty sure the last time I bought a new Windows computer I had the choice of an old or the current OS :) 

I agree that people aren't rational about software. It costs money to develop, but people consider it free because once it's built, it costs almost nothing to reproduce. Especially if it's deployed OTA, then it's just magic fairy dust.

Also, note that there's no reason an ICE can't get OTA updates, and no reason an EV has to receive OTA updates. They happened to be deployed en masse for the first time by the same company, but don't get confused by that. Mazda had to recall a whole bunch of Miatas for a software update to fix an emissions problem in 2001 or so, technically there's no reason they couldn't build the capability to do that OTA into the current car.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/22 2:18 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I always figured when you pay for an upgrade like that, you're not paying for the power, you are paying for the increased warranty liabilities.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
12/6/22 4:22 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Maybe it's optimized code that wasn't available when the car came out.

You can get Polestar tunes for nearly all Volvos.  My V60 has it.  Being an ICE drivetrain it does some nice little things like fatten the midrange torque and shift the AWD torque split aft a bit.

Basically they thin the margins somewhat to tweak more power out of the vehicle - as someone says above, most of that $1200 is in amortizing the higher warranty costs for owners who chose to push the envelope a little.

DirtyBird222 said:

If we look at it the way it should be dissected, why isn't it just sold this way? I mean this is worlds better than the Mercedes subscription bullE36 M3 for more power. This type of nonsense is what I suspected from the EV world.

It's the same for Volvo ICE vehicles as well.

They don't just do it for all cars all the time because taking that extra power out of the stress and reliability margins opens liability for more warranty claims.  90% of the buyers aren't going to notice the difference anyway, so why take on more warranty exposure for the vast majority of the cars on the road?  Doing it this way means that the 10% who do care get the privilege of paying for the increased risk they generate.

 

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