After showing off its first creation to interested buyers for a few months, Polestar is finally revealing more of its plan for how it will navigate the automotive space. And with nearly 200 deposits for the Polestar 1 coming from America alone — the market that has shown the most interest — you can be sure they’re focused on capturing the American market.
At an event in Manhattan, the brand revealed that it would be opening Polestar Spaces in metropolitan locations around the country. Gregor Hembrough, Head of Polestar USA, said that the process will begin in New York City, where the brand was showing off the Polestar 1 to gearheads at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan (and managed to convince a few people to order some of their own).
The Polestar Spaces, frankly, sound a little like Tesla’s stores. Rather than having a lot of full cars to show, the spaces will instead have a handful of examples in the store (more as more models arrive) so that people can take a look at the car for themselves and talk to a product expert. They won’t pick the car up there, though, and the whole purchasing process could be done online.
The spaces will, according to the Polestar 1’s project leader, Sofia Bjornesson, will be avant-garde spaces that reflect the design aesthetic of many of Polestar’s recent event spaces and press photography (think imposing, geometric, and dark with exquisite Scandinavian furniture). Mostly located in high-end malls and chic parts of town, the Polestar Spaces will be separate from the Volvo dealerships through which it provides parts, service, and more. Again, though, in an ideal world, Hembrough believes that most customers won’t interact with a dealership in normal circumstances. Instead, they will be able to use the Polestar website or (although they didn’t actually mention it, you can bet there will be) an app of some sort. Polestar employees would then come and pick your car up for you and (if you need it) drop off a loaner.
Hembrough is quick to explain, though, that with the Polestar 1 is not expected to start making it to clients for another year, there are still some finer points that haven’t been decided yet. Like where precisely the Polestar Spaces will go.
There won’t be a Polestar Space everywhere there’s a Volvo dealership and the web of Polestar Spaces will expand as the need arises. Polestar also has an eye to the future. With 2 and the 3 both already known to be fully electric, the brand’s retail spaces will only open where there is a charging infrastructure — something that will be helped by Electrify America, whose chargers Polestars will be compatible with.
It hardly takes a crystal ball to predict that Polestar will be looking to California and other similarly environmentally conscious markets next after its first location in New York.
Naturally, Polestar Spaces won’t be exclusive to America, with locations in China and Europe also announced from day one. Canada, too, will get a few locations in major metropolitan areas (again, unconfirmed but Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver seem like good bets).
That last market presents a unique issue, too, since British Columbia has single-payer, government auto insurance, a hitch Hembrough admitted the company was looking for ways deal with (he didn’t confirm that the discussion was happening around B.C., but Saskatchewan seems unlikely). He offered that winter tires included in the subscription fee might be a possible alternative to included-insurance if no deal could be struck with the crown insurers.
Fortunately, that won’t be a problem in the U.S., where the insurance market is fairly homogeneous. And you won’t necessarily have to subscribe to your Polestar. In fact, Hembrough says that for a $155,000 performance coupe (the Polestar 1), buyers aren’t necessarily looking to subscribe. While there will be owners looking to subscribe to Polestar’s equivalent of “Care by Volvo” (it name hasn’t been announced yet and the brand is still trying to figure out what works best for its buyers) but at the Polestar 1’s price point, many customers are looking to buy. When the Polestar 2 (in 2020) and Polestar 3 come, though, the subscriptions are expected take off because they will be priced more closely to premium vehicles whose main buyers lease—something Hembrough believes subscription services will take over from.
Although there are still many questions about the specifics of the Polestar experience, the brand is homing in on exactly where and what it wants to be.
“Launching an entirely new car brand gives us the opportunity to assess what customers enjoy about car ownership, and what they are less keen on,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer at Polestar, in a recent press release. “As an electric performance brand, we want to maximize our customer’s enjoyment of driving. Polestars will be great looking cars with avant-garde design that are full of modern technology and great to drive.”