Having made its choice of Montreal partner Groupe Park Avenue, the new Polestar brand has turned its attention to selecting dealer partners in the Toronto and Vancouver markets.
The marque’s Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid halo car is going through its launch cycle now, and the fully electric Polestar 2 will go on sale in June 2020. As preparations progress, Hugues Bissonnette, Polestar’s Canadian manager, says that dealer partners will be selected from among the existing Volvo dealers in Toronto and Vancouver by the end of November.
“We want one dealer per city,” Bissonnette told Automotive News Canada. “The average throughput on a Volvo store in Canada right now is just above 300 [units per year]. Our business model calls for 650, at least, per outlet. We’ll make sure that [selected dealers] get to that throughput target before we even consider having a second point in those cities.
“The goal is also to make sure that we have less owners, so if we're going to do a second point in Toronto, we will likely approach the existing partner before going outside.”
This model, along with Polestar’s zero-inventory, online-driven sales model, means selecting a retailer partner in these cities relies heavily on factors other than sales acumen.
“The service platform is obviously an important factor in the decision,” Bissonnette said, “especially in Toronto. It’s an important market volume-wise and very spread out geographically, so we want to make sure we can serve our customer in a good way.
“We want to make sure we partner up with the ones that have the most progressive mindset and a vision that's aligned with what we think is going to make us successful in Canada.”
Bissonnette said that Polestar plans to offer little variance in its products. Inventory will be held off-site away from retail locations, which will be on very small footprints centrally located in urban areas, and maintained in 80 per cent of the available configurations.
“Within 10 days, whether you're in Toronto or Montreal, you'll be able to take delivery of a car, which is not far from a traditional purchase today,” Bissonnette said. “You're not necessarily going to be able to touch the metal on the day that you purchase the car. But nowadays, with the [virtual-reality] tools that are going to be available in those spaces, it's going to be very close to reality.
“It's going to replace, in our opinion, having a hundred cars on the lot.”
Bissonnette said that the brand’s current growth plan projects having between seven to ten dealers across the country within five to six years, and it has not yet been decided whether all of those locations would be within Canada’s three largest cities.
“We’re not closing the door on other markets,” Bissonnette said. “We’re going to wait to see where demand goes. Government incentives drive purchase behaviours, so we’ll see where it leads.”