Efficiency is to electric cars what what miles per gallon are to infernal combustion engines. It’s the one metric that allows us to distinguish the truly great cars from the also rans. The Polestar 2 and the Tesla Model 3 are both battery-electric sedans. In many respects, the cars are quite similar. The single-motor front-wheel-drive Polestar lists for $45,900 plus a $1300 delivery charge. The single-motor rear-wheel-drive Model 3 lists for $46,490 plus a $1200 delivery charge. You could call it a draw between the two cars except that the Polestar qualifies for a $7500 tax credit in the US and the Tesla no longer does. That’s significant.
When it comes to range, the EPA says the Polestar 2 can go 270 miles on a single charge; the Tesla 267 miles. Both numbers are for cars shod with the standard 19″ wheels and tires. But here’s the thing: the Polestar has a 78 kWh battery, while the Tesla makes do with a 60 kWh battery (… approximately — Tesla does not specify the actual size of the battery). That makes the Tesla about 30% more efficient than the Polestar. (It also has a 40 mph higher top speed and is 1.2 seconds quicker to 60 mph.)
Why is that a big deal? InsideEVs says, “On the manufacturer level, we see a big problem — a substantially bigger battery means that the costs are higher and the margins are lower, especially if we consider that Tesla has switched to the less expensive LFP batteries while the Polestar has NCM lithium ion chemistry.” In other words, the profit margin on the Polestar is way less than it is for the Model 3. InsideEVs calls it a “devastating efficiency difference.”
Polestar 2 Dual Motor Vs. Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor
When comparing the dual-motor version of both cars (again with 19″ wheels and tires), the difference is just as stark. The Polestar 2 stays with its 78 kWh battery pack while the Model 3 Long Range gets an 80 kWh (or maybe 82 kWh) battery pack. But the Tesla can go 334 miles, according to the EPA, while EPA range for the Polestar 2 drops to just 249 miles — less than a Chevy Bolt.
The Polestar sells for about $2500 less and is still eligible for the federal tax credit, which will appeal to some buyers. But true EV cognoscenti will appreciate that the Tesla is significantly more efficient than the Polestar. The bottom line is that Tesla makes truly compelling cars while most other manufacturers only wish they did. Things are changing rapidly in the world of electric cars, and it may be that some EV will knock Tesla off its perch, but most are still trailing in Tesla’s wake and finding it hard to keep up.
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