Volvo begins production on Tesla rival in China

Polestar 2 production at Volvo's Luqiao plant.
  • While many carmakers in the US and Europe have shut down production in response to the novel coronavirus, factories in China are beginning to come back online as infection counts decline.
  • That includes the factory making the Polestar 2, a roughly $60,000, 408-horsepower electric sedan under Volvo's performance electric-vehicle brand. Production on the car began this week.
  • Analysts have warned that returning to work could risk a second wave of the coronavirus in China, but a Polestar spokesperson detailed to Business Insider some of the safety precautions being taken at its plants — including requiring employees to wear masks at work and in public, and multiple self-health checks per day.
  • Polestar 2 deliveries are expected to start later this year, beginning with Europe and followed by the US and China. 
As many carmakers in the US and Europe continue with the same general message — that factories are shutting down for a couple of weeks, maybe longer, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic — operations in China are slowly beginning to move in the opposite direction.
And on Tuesday morning, Volvo's Polestar announced that it had just begun production on a new, 400-horsepower electric sedan at its Luqiao plant in China's Zhejiang province. Polestar is the EV performance brand under Volvo, both of which are owned by the Chinese company Geely. The new, roughly $60,000 electric sedan, the Polestar 2, will come with 408 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and first deliveries scheduled for later this year. They'll go to Europe initially, followed by China and North America. 
In the production announcement, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath mentioned the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has thus far been the cause of a confirmed 495,000 infections and more than 22,000 deaths worldwide, saying that the world "is facing enormous upheaval in the face of the coronavirus pandemic." The statement then turned into a tone of triumph. 
"We start production now under these challenging circumstances with a strong focus on the health and safety of our people," Ingenlath said. "This is a great achievement and the result of huge efforts from the staff in the factory and the team securing the supply chain. I have a huge amount of respect for the entire team."
Those precautions include: 14-day quarantine periods with "transparent whereabout tracking for everybody wanting to enter the plant" via self-reporting through an app; mandatory health checks; temperature scanning at entrances and self checks three times per day for all employees; mandatory face masks to be worn in public places and in the plant; "intensified disinfection programs"; hand sanitizer available to all employees; social distancing on the work floor and reduced face-to-face meetings; no business travel; requiring employees to use their own tableware; and emergency procedures and reaction plans that include "the use of a specialized isolation and treatment room."
The Polestar spokesperson said precautions at the Luqiao plant are likely similar, but Business Insider has reached out to Volvo for confirmation.

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