Volvo's Polestar unveils subscription, retail plans for North America
Editor's note: Polestar is emphasizing that its retail boutiques will be 100 per cent franchised. An earlier version of this story misstated the role of franchises in Polestar's retail spaces.
Polestar Performance AB announced details on Thursday of the framework it will use to promote sales for its new electric cars, the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2.
The marque is the performance luxury brand of Volvo Cars, owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.
The idea behind the service is less like leasing or car-sharing and more like Netflix, with customers choosing from an all-inclusive subscription model that combines automotive costs like insurance and maintenance into a single monthly payment. There will be no money required up front.
Retail spaces planned for North America will be no-commission “guide shops” where buyers can evaluate the cars in real life without feeling pressure to buy from salespeople. Consumers will also be able to research, configure, and purchase the Polestar vehicles online at any time. The model is similar in some regards to Tesla, which installed boutique shops in trendy neighbourhoods as it rolled out its cars, however, the so-called Polestar Spaces will be franchised but will not be like traditional dealerships..
Polestar North America will open its first retail space in New York in late 2019 or early 2020, with additional “spaces” in Canada soon to follow, according to a company statement released Sept. 20. Representatives from Volvo’s electric performance brand said they have also been meeting with 60 retailers worldwide to represent Polestar, with shops in each of the first markets to open in time for deliveries of its hybrid and electric coupes.
Polestar’s first car, the US$155,000 Polestar 1 hybrid, debuted in China in 2017 and has slowly been making the rounds, first in Europe at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, and later in North America at Pebble Beach.
It has three electric motors and one combustion engine that get the equivalent of 600 horsepower and what the company claims will be “the longest pure electric range of any hybrid in the world.” Production starts in mid-2019 at the new Polestar Production Center in Chengdu, China. (Corporate headquarters for Polestar are located in Gothenburg, Sweden.)
Polestar will reportedly make 500 of them worldwide; all 200 of the first-year models designed for North America have already sold.
Polestar 2, the company’s first full battery electric vehicle, will debut early next year. It is designed to compete against the Tesla Model 3.
As announced earlier this summer, Gregor Hembrough has been appointed to lead Polestar in the U.S. He was formerly a vice president of Volvo Cars USA and will be building up a U.S. team based in Rockleigh, N.J., just north of New York City.