It’s exciting times for Polestar. The Swedish performance electric car brand is opening its first ‘Space’ store in Australia, at Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre, this summer. The ‘Space’ retail concept enables customers to interact with the Polestar brand, meet product specialists and take a test drive in the all-electric Polestar 2. The concept was recently named “Most Immersive Brand Home” by leading design publication Wallpaper*. What sets ‘Space’ apart from a
rom a typical retail store is that specialists, rather than salespeople, give customers room to explore at their own pace and seek expert assistance if required, without the pressure of a purchase. Onwards and upwards “It’s been a very exciting year for the brand. We started sales in February this year, and we’re getting towards 1000 cars on the road soon. We’ve got thousands of orders in the pipeline as well,” Samantha Johnson, head of Polestar Australia, told Inside Retail. The brand currently has five retail locations in Australia, along with service points for customers, and so far, it has been very well received in the local marketplace. “There has been so much growth in the pipeline for the brand, and of course with the reveal of the Polestar 3, it’s going to be a very exciting time for us as we bring more models to Australia and the APAC region too,” Johnson said. The new location in Chadstone is expected to help create greater brand awareness among Australians. “Everyone heads to Chadstone for high-end brands, so being in Australia’s largest shopping centre is a great opportunity for us to showcase the brand, and it’s also a very convenient and accessible location for our customers,” she noted. Buying Polestars online The typical Polestar customer is comfortable with purchasing electric vehicles [EV] online, and most Polestar purchases are made online. It’s a real departure from most car showrooms and purchasing journeys. “I think consumers these days are very used to buying things online. They buy clothes, furniture, multi-million dollar homes and now cars. What we do is make sure we have a seamless experience online for our customers,” Johnson said. Polestar has a customer care centre that is accessible via web chat, email or phone. There is support to help customers through the purchasing process. “You can configure your ideal car, with paint swatches for exterior and interior upholstery choices all online. You can match things up with different combinations with our configurator. We send them a QR code for the configuration, and we can help them all the way,” she noted. This novel approach towards selling a car really takes the pressure off of consumers, allowing them to choose to purchase an EV on their own terms, even from the comfort of their own homes, and ultimately this results in satisfied customers. A luxurious yet minimalistic edge There is something about the Polestar brand that sets it apart from the rest in the EV market. With its Volvo heritage, it has a luxurious yet minimalistic edge that gives it a bit of an “X-factor”, appealing to discerning consumers. “Polestar’s key features are centred around design, innovation and sustainability. Our CEO Thomas Ingenlath, who was the former design head of Volvo, brings a lot of design-led innovation to the table,” Johnson said. She added that every component of the vehicles is beautifully engineered, like a work of art, but with Volvo’s safety heritage coursing through it. It’s all about technological innovation married with sustainability. “We’ve got the most aerodynamic vehicle, but it’s also beautiful on the inside. We make sure we have a real connected car in line with customer expectations these days. So Polestar has been really good at that,” she stated. Environmentally responsible Polestar has a very ambitious initiative, dubbed ‘Project 0’, that involves eliminating – not simply reducing – all greenhouse gas emissions from every aspect of its production. From conception all the way to customer delivery, Polestar is committed to reaching its zero-emissions target without resorting to offsetting. The company aims to actively identify and establish collaborations with partners that can help it innovate solutions with proven results. In this phase, building and running pilot lines and validating concepts for materials, functions and supply chain will be the focus. Then, vehicle architecture will begin, reflecting the fact that the ultimate ambition of the project is to launch a global, commercial product. The final phase involves designing and building manufacturing sites and finalising a complete supply chain for high-volume production. Polestar expects to complete ‘Project 0’ in the early summer of 2030, when production is scheduled to start. Johnson explained that this vision is what sets Polestar apart from other EV makers in the space. “What we really want is a car that has zero emissions from cradle to grave, so it’s something tangible that we are doing in the industry,” she said. The future is bright While most automotive brands may be worried about a looming global economic recession that could be fueled by supply chain bottlenecks and even semiconductor shortages in the automotive market, Johnson revealed that Polestar is doing fine in the face of adversity. “We’ve got such an acceleration in EV growth, that even if the automotive market does cool down, there will still be a lot of people moving to electric cars from petrol vehicles. So we actually came in at a good time to help car buyers make the switch,” Johnson said. Nonetheless, she is frank about the shortcomings of the Australian marketplace in terms of EV-related government policies and overall support for this new normal in transportation. “I think Australia is well behind the rest of the world in terms of EV uptake. But having said that, we now have a government that is very climate supportive. From fuel efficiency standards to charging infrastructure, there are also incentives and benefits being rolled out,” she said. While countries like Norway are nearing almost 100 per cent uptake of EV, from her perspective, Australia has a long way to go, but with government policies in place, she feels that there will be an exponential shift upwards in terms of demand. Non-stop plans Polestar is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, and its vehicles are currently available and on the road in markets across Europe, North America, China and Asia Pacific. By 2023, the company expects its cars to be available in 30 markets. Polestar cars are currently manufactured in two facilities in China, with additional future manufacturing planned in the US. From 2022, Polestar plans to launch one new electric vehicle per year, starting with Polestar 3. Polestar 4 is expected to follow in 2023, a smaller electric performance SUV coupe. In 2024, the Polestar 5 electric performance 4-door GT is set to launch. The Polestar 6 electric performance roadster is expected to launch in 2026. As the company seeks to reduce its climate impact with every new model, Polestar aims to produce a truly climate-neutral car by 2030. “We’ve got an amazing lineup of models coming to our shores, as well as the rest of the Asia Pacific region, so we are very excited. We’re just making sure we have the infrastructure in place to serve our customers in the best possible way,” Johnson concluded.