Polestar drives Chinese consumer confidence and scores a Super Bowl win with Cloudflare
Polestar has always focused on performance and innovation. From its roots as an automotive racing team, the organization evolved to become Volvo’s performance tuning arm. Under the Volvo brand, the Polestar badge became synonymous with the Swedish manufacturer’s more sporty offerings.
Today, as an independent electric car manufacturer, Polestar applies its talent toward the development and manufacture of design-forward, performance-oriented luxury electric vehicles (EVs). The company’s ethos— Pure Progressive Performance — is at the heart of its approach to all aspects of the business, from the cars it designs to the end-to-end customer experience it provides.
The Challenge: Improving Chinese customer confidence, finding a strategic development partner, and ensuring highly-performant content delivery
For automobile manufacturers, an effective digital infrastructure is central to both product performance and how customers perceive and interact with the manufacturer. Within the performance EV sector, Polestar has the mechanical pedigree, but wants to take its digital experience to the next level.
“Polestar has a unique take on how to buy a car and it's very important to us to deliver on those expectations,” explains Mikael Vesavuori, Cloud Software Architect and Technical Standards Lead at Polestar. “Whether you purchase our cars online or visit one of the Polestar spaces, we tie together the physical and digital dimensions to provide a much richer retail and automotive encounter.”
One way they achieve this is the Polestar Configurator, a central feature of Polestar’s distinctive physical spaces. It is a media-rich digital and physical touchpoint that familiarizes buyers with vehicle configurations, options, and interior and exterior materials and trim.
Unfortunately, the Polestar Configurator experienced performance and availability issues in China — a lucrative market where one in every five cars sold is an EV (1).
At the heart of the problem was Polestar’s CDN provider, which had issues with the restrictive Chinese Internet infrastructure and connectivity problems with its global AWS network. The only solution was a partner that could overcome the latency, congestion and peering, and DNS issues that negatively affected customer perceptions of Polestar technology and the cars themselves.
In addition to solving these issues, Polestar wanted a strategic partnership to aid along its software development roadmap. The company was developing a micro-front end architecture for its web presence that relied on multiple applications. These applications needed to interact seamlessly to provide a user experience that aligned with Polestar’s brand objectives.
“We were looking for a proactive partner with developer experience, but we were sitting in meetings with vendors simply handing us documentation and saying, ‘Here’s how you can deal with the challenges you are facing,’” says Johan Larsson, Technical Lead for the Polestar Platform Team.
Finally, as Polestar scaled its online and physical spaces internationally and began more proactively marketing its products, they wanted enterprise-class security and content delivery to ensure they remained performant in every imaginable scenario and market.
The Cloudflare China Network provides world-class performance and reliability
“It was a matter of perfect timing in a very poor situation,” says Vesavuori, explaining Polestar’s move to Cloudflare. With the current CDN partnership up for contract renewal and Chinese connectivity lagging, Polestar began researching to find the ideal solution partner.
“The list went from many names to very few,” he explains. “Only Cloudflare ticked all the boxes and met all of our absolute requirements for a dedicated China network — brand stability, proven reliability, and a very DevOps-oriented approach.”
After the switch, Polestar saw an immediate improvement in the performance of its on-site Configurator and web properties due to the Cloudflare China Network’s partnership with China’s largest Internet and cloud services provider, JD Cloud. The partnership provides Cloudflare clients with a geographically dispersed network presence in major cities across China to serve their static and dynamic content, and unrestricted access to Cloudflare serverless computing.
“With our previous vendor, everything was difficult to configure and troubleshoot,” says Larsson. “With Cloudflare, it just worked like magic. We instantly saw performance — our Chinese pages were as accessible as any other page, anywhere in the world.”
“Our most important gain in the move to Cloudflare China was the improvement across the board in predictability and stability. It always works,” Vesavuori adds. “On the customer side, that ability to deliver reliable technology ensures trust.”
A Super Bowl performant win with Workers and the Cloudflare global network
In addition to adopting the Cloudflare China Network, Polestar moved away from its underperforming cloud services and CDN provider, switched to the Cloudflare global network for content delivery worldwide, and began web development using Cloudflare Workers serverless edge computing services.
When it came to development, Polestar was able to rapidly migrate its entire micro-front-end architecture and applications to Workers, the Cloudflare serverless platform for running applications and code on the network edge. Cloudflare documentation, in addition to its strong online community and consultations, demos, and walkthroughs from proactive Cloudflare support teams further accelerated the transition.
Another win for the company was the ability to easily test its releases using Workers, a process Polestar previously found tedious and time-consuming. The time saved freed up Polestar’s technical teams to focus on core business goals.
“Workers was the most compatible with the tech we use to develop our applications — other vendor’s solutions were abstracted in a way that made it difficult to get a sense of what would happen when we made changes,” Larsson explains. “Using Workers, we have granular control of everything and we can easily test to ensure our setup is correct before we release anything.”
On the content delivery side, Polestar put the Cloudflare global network to the test when it aired the ‘No Compromises’ commercial during Super Bowl 2022. The advertisement resulted in over 150,000 website visits — a traffic increase of almost 500 percent — in the two minutes after it aired. The site also saw an increase in long-tail traffic of around 15% for weeks following the tv commercial.
“Immediately after airing the Super Bowl commercial, viewers completed over 2000 configurations. We also saw a sales record for cars sold post event without fatal errors or us even flinching,” says Vesavuori. “Without Cloudflare as part of our core infrastructure, that could not have happened.”
With 99.7% of its traffic served from the Cloudflare cache — up from a maximum of 80% percent with its previous providers — the Polestar network is faster and more resilient than ever. Cloudflare image resizing and optimization further lighten Polestar's bandwidth requirements, increase performance, and render its graphically-intensive website responsive on any device.
Looking forward, Polestar intends to strengthen its partnership with Cloudflare and explore new services. The company is looking into Cloudflare Stream for its video storage, encoding, and adaptive bitrate playback, in addition to digging deeper into Workers KV, the Cloudflare edge key-value-data storage solution.
“Cloudflare is taking steps that disrupt the traditional marketplace. It's very interesting to follow their emerging services and figure out how they will improve our next generation of applications on the edge,” says Larsson.
“Cloudflare is Polestar’s twin in the sense they are innovating and disrupting classic software development, I think our continued relationship will be one of the keys to Polestar’s success,” adds Vesavuori.