Swedish EV maker Polestar (PSNY) is teaming up with Chinese tech company Xingji Meizu Group to advance its own in-car operating system (OS) designed for buyers in China.
Polestar to introduce in-house OS in China
Polestar’s (and Volvo’s) parent company Geely bought a majority stake (79.9%) in Meizu, a Chinese electronics company, last year as the company looked to expand its digital platform offerings.
Meizu was once one of China’s most popular smartphone makers and known as an up-and-coming Android rival, but it has since lost market share to larger tech companies like Xiaomi.
Although the brand lost relevance over the years, its technology could play an integral role in helping it compete in an auto market that continues progressing toward connected digital experiences.
Geely is quickly putting the technology to work as two of its business units – Polestar and newly acquired Meizu – will work together to improve the digital experience with an in-house OS.
Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath commented on the new joint venture, saying:
China is one of the fastest growing EV markets in the world. It’s also a market with very specific consumer trends, including increasing levels of integration between consumer electronics devices and vehicles. By partnering with a company that has a strong complementary competence to our own, we will be able to offer the locally tailored user experience that both drivers and passengers expect.
The joint venture will develop Meizu’s existing tech platform, Flyme Auto, into a seamless OS for Polestar electric cars sold in China. Some of the services will include in-car apps, streaming, and intelligent vehicle software.
Polestar will own 49% of the new JV, while Xingji Meizu will own the remaining 51% and will be in charge of its future financing.
Xingji Meizu chairman Ziyu Shen said, “The future will be enabled by integrated devices and platforms that deliver an immersive experience for end users.” He added that with Meizu’s technology, “Polestar will take the lead in the field of smart mobility.”
Meanwhile, Polestar says it will continue to embrace its close collaboration with Google, and its cars in the rest of the world will still use Android Automotive OS.
Don’t worry. Polestar is not out to replace your Android OS in the US or other auto markets outside of China. Polestar recently added YouTube and other new features to the Polestar 2 via an OTA update.
This partnership is specifically designed for the Chinese market. Ingleth mentions that China is “a market with very specific consumer trends,” a message that other automakers have echoed.
Following Ford’s first-quarter earnings, CEO Jim Farley said it was “interesting to see how customers are no longer just attracted to traditional luxury brands with EVs or even hardware design anymore” on his trip to China. Instead, he said, “The best new brands are offering integrated digital, retail, lifestyle, and experience that are software-defined.”
Volkswagen recently revealed a new €1 billion (roughly $1.1 billion) business unit in China, “100%TechCo,” designed to reduce development for new EV tech and products by up to 30%.
Automakers are seeing an opportunity to not only attract new customers through software but also use it as another revenue stream.
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