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Why Automakers Are Launching Smartphones with EVs: A Seamless Transition to a Mobile Phone on Wheels


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Launching smartphones with EVs

Meizu is not a major player in the Chinese smartphone market, with companies like Apple and Oppo being among the biggest. However, the Polestar smartphone is not an attempt to increase market share. Instead, automakers are launching smartphones to make cars more like mobile phones on wheels.

Polestar CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, said, “Where you have an opportunity to link these two worlds, without any border… then you can really have a seamless transition.”

Integration of apps between phones and cars

Imagine a world where you can use an app on your phone and then seamlessly continue using it on your car’s dashboard screen. This is the vision that automakers like Meizu and Polestar have. However, current technology still has limitations, as Ingenlath mentioned the difficulties of displaying SMS on car screens.

According to Ingenlath, the Polestar phone will be a “premium” device, allowing Meizu to enter the high-end device market. This concept of car companies launching phones is gaining traction, as Chinese EV start-up Nio plans to launch its first self-developed mobile phone in September.

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“It’s not just good enough to bring a great European design to China, you have to be very, very special about what you offer to the market when it comes to software.”

– Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar

One of the main advantages of car companies launching phones is the ability to customize the operating system. Unlike Google Android, which is not available in China, Meizu has its own operating system called FlyMe. This allows them to create an operating system for Polestar cars based on FlyMe, ensuring seamless integration with the smartphone.

Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint Research, stated, “Many OEMs are following Geely and potentially other future players such as Apple if they come up with their own car with their smartphone to provide a holistic and tighter connected experience in every aspect of mobility.” OEM refers to car manufacturers.

Shah also mentioned that the smartphone would allow Polestar to bundle software, apps, services, and features that can control or interact with the car remotely. Additionally, launching a phone could help carmakers gain insights into their customers’ habits.

Polestar 4 versus Tesla’s Model Y

The Polestar 4, priced at 349,800 Chinese yuan ($47,890), is positioned as “more premium, more luxurious” than Tesla’s Model Y, which starts at 263,900 yuan. Polestar’s target customers are those who currently drive German cars like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and they see the Polestar 4 as a competitor to cars like the Porsche Macan.

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