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This New Tesla-Fighting Electric Car Is Cheaper Than Expected. Here’s Why That Matters

Limboing under some dollar amounts means more than going under others.

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In the world of electric cars, Tesla remains the 800-pound gorilla — but its silverback status is about to be challenged by a whole host of other carmakers. New companies like Rivian and Bollinger are poised to take it on from the startup side, while existing automotive goliaths like Ford, General Motors and the VW Group are in the process of spooling up their war machines to crank out dozens of new varieties of electric vehicles in the next few years

Perhaps one of the most interesting competitors, though, is Polestar. Volvo’s spinoff division marks the rare occurrence of an existing car company whipping up an entirely new brand solely for EVs, and it seems poised to take Elon Musk’s car business on directly with a tit-for-tat vehicle strategy. Tesla launched with the Roadster, a sexy proof-of-concept halo car based off an existing design; Polestar launched with the 1, a sexy proof-of-concept car based off an existing design. Tesla followed that up with the Model S, an all-new, all-electric luxury sedan; Polestar is about to launch its second car, the 2, which is — you guessed it — an all-new, all-electric luxury sedan.

Yet in price and size, the Polestar 2 is closer to a Model 3 competitor than a vehicle to take on Tesla’s range-topping four-door. It’s a smart move; after all, as Tesla’s own figures have shown, there are far more sales to be found there, and if the intent is to establish Polestar as a mainstream EV maker, sales are exactly what it needs. And that’s why Polestar’s announcement of U.S. pricing for the Polestar 2 shows it’s all about making smart moves.

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While the Polestar 2 was originally expected to come in somewhere in the low-to-mid-$60K range, the carmaker announced on April 23rd that its base price would actually be $59,900. That’s important, because it allows the car to limbo under the $60,000 price cap that states like New York and California apply to electric vehicle incentives; if an EV’s base price is over that mark, it’s not eligible. Limboing the price in at that point means the Polestar 2 will be eligible for up to $9,500 in combined federal and state tax breaks, depending on where buyers live. (Tesla, of course, is no longer eligible for the federal $7,500 tax credit, having sold too many cars.)

Polestar also announced the pricing for the 2’s options — some of which sound far more entertaining than others. The $5,000 Performance Pack, which adds a sporty Ohlins suspension, Brembo brakes and a new wheel-and-tire package, will probably take a bit off the Polestar 2’s claimed 275-mile range, but it should make up for it in fun by enabling drivers to make the most of the all-wheel-drive sedan’s 408 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque. The $4,000 Nappa Leather Interior sounds nice, but not essential. You don’t need the $1,200 20-inch wheels because, well, you presumably already got the Performance Pack, but you probably will want to budget $1,200 for a paint color other than black.

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