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EV maker Polestar's Q4 loss narrows, won't engage in price wars

By Marie Mannes

(Reuters) - Electric vehicle (EV) maker Polestar on Thursday posted a smaller quarterly loss, maintained its 2023 production outlook and said it would not engage in price wars while weakening demand has forced some rivals to scale back output.

This year is proving to be a tough one for EV makers, as a Tesla-ignited price war and continued supply chain bottlenecks further strain start-ups hoping to benefit from the shift to EVs.

While some carmakers have followed Tesla's lead and cut EV prices, Polestar says it has no intention of doing so, taking the same stance as former parent company Volvo Cars.

"We will not engage in a price war...we are aiming to become a very premium sportscar company...," chief executive Thomas Ingenlath told Reuters. "It's very clear that this is a completely different aim from where Tesla is going, with 20 million cars per year."

Demand for electric cars has weakened for U.S. EV startups Rivian and Lucid, with both carmakers forecasting 2023 production well below analyst estimates.

But Polestar reaffirmed the 2023 production outlook it gave in January of 80,000 cars, up from the roughly 51,000 it delivered in 2022.

Ingenlath said he saw supply chain issues that have hampered global auto production easing in 2023, and 2022 has left the carmaker with a strong order book.

"This year will be a little bit more normal," he said.

The Swedish carmaker, founded by China's Geely and Volvo Cars, posted a fourth quarter operating loss of $204.7 million, down from $337.3 million a year ago. The company reported a gross profit of $61.9 million versus a loss of $0.2 million in the same quarter in 2021.

The U.S-listed company said it expected its gross profit for 2023 to broadly be in line with the $119.4 million it reported for 2022.

(Reporting by Marie Mannes;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)