Polestar is not only a new automotive brand, but a bold new concept when it comes to car ownership and customer interaction.
Polestar joins Tesla in an exclusive club — they are the only car companies in the world that offer only hybrid or battery-electric vehicles in their fleets.
The brand is part of Geely Holding Group, a Chinese conglomerate that also owns Gothenburg, Sweden-based Volvo, which it purchased in 2010.
Polestar started as a performance group that provided go-faster options for Volvo. While it retains that role, a rebranding is underway to make it an independent marque on the world stage.
While Volvo continues to serve the premium market, Polestar is meant to transition from the traditional bricks-and-mortar car-dealership model to one that is more digitally based.
Vancouver Island-based GAIN Group will represent the brand in Western Canada with Polestar Vancouver, one of three Polestar Spaces opening initially in Canada. The other two are in Toronto and Montreal.
Victoria and Waterloo, Ont., will have satellite service centres.
Unlike traditional drive-in automotive lots, the boutique outlets will be in the heart of town and geared for walk-in traffic.
“We are appealing to a different consumer,” said Peter Trzewik, head of the GAIN Group of Vancouver Island. “The digital-first retail model means we will go to where the consumer lives rather than the other way around. Consumers can choose, arrange for a test drive, arrange for financing, lease, pay and take delivery of their vehicle with little to no physical contact.”
The brand advertises home delivery and pickup service for customers within 250 kilometres of a Polestar Space.
Polestar launches with two vehicles, Polestar 1 and Polestar 2. The Polestar 1 is a limited-edition high-end hybrid meant to showcase the brand. The carbon-fibre two-door coupe is limited to only 50 examples a year in Canada and carries a $197,000 price tag.
The second model, the Polestar 2, built in China, is a five-door battery-electric vehicle with a base price of $69,900.
Last week, Polestar Vancouver opened in Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver. The store will move to its permanent home, at the corner of Seymour and Robson streets in downtown Vancouver, when renovations there are completed in March 2021.
Polestar stores have no salespeople. Shoppers will be greeted by non-commissioned product specialists who will assist them with product information and test drives.
The Polestar Vancouver service department will be on Frances Street in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
Victoria, meanwhile, will get a pop-up store and Polestar servicing at Volvo Cars Victoria at Cook and Yates streets. “This is an important electric-car market,” said Trzewik.
Because the business model does not centre on a geographical location, as with a traditional new-vehicle franchise, the GAIN Group expects to take orders throughout Western Canada, with a handful of pre-sales already happening for eager buyers in Yukon and Alberta.
The goal is to reach sales of 600 vehicles by the end of the second year, said Trzewik, adding the next location will be based on where the company sees the most sales.
The Polestar website is designed so a customer can browse, select, arrange financing and get delivery of their vehicle without ever leaving their home.
Customers seeking a test drive will have vehicles brought to their place of business or home.