Polestar Destinations To Rival Tesla As EV Upstart Moves Out Of The Mall

Not content to limit itself to mall showrooms, upstart premium electric vehicle (EV) company Polestar is to open a new out-of-town format, ramp up global store expansion and hire 100 new tech-heads at its Gothenburg HQ to take on Tesla

TSLA
.

Following hot-on-the-heels of its innovative mall-based Spaces concept, Destinations will debut before the end of this year and reflects Polestar’s intent to boost its retail presence as part of wider, ambitious new global growth plans, which include a major push in the U.S., where it intends to retail from as many as 21 Spaces locations by the end of this year.

The EV brand, part-owned by Volvo and mutual parent, Chinese automotive giant Geely Holding, will initially double its U.K. presence through the opening of new Polestar Spaces stores in Birmingham and Glasgow before the end of the year, while it is also poised to launch in a further nine global markets – doubling its total number of markets to 18.

Polestar will likewise double its retail environments around the world to about 100 locations by the end of the year, including some temporary pop-up locations, and roll-out the Polestar Destinations store concept.

In a statement the company said that Destinations outlets would be located at “larger, easy-to-access out-of-town locations” and will also provide an auto handover experience to customers who decide to purchase.”

Polestar Spaces Choose Mall Locations

With an online-only purchasing model, Polestar opened its first Spaces concept in the U.K. in October last year, eschewing the out-of-town dealership model by locating in flagship London shopping mall Westfield London. With no sales staff or commissioned-based sales, Polestar’s ‘product specialists’ chat with visitors, who can also configure their vehicle using a tablet, save their order, then complete the purchase on the Polestar website at home.

After debuting with the Westfield London outlet, the initial U.K. Spaces was joined shortly afterward by a second at the Trafford Centre out-of-town mall in the north west, near Manchester.

By locating in shopping centers instead of alongside other dealerships, Polestar aims to reach customers through unconventional and decidedly soft-sell channels and at the Fall launch, Jonathan Goodman, head of Polestar U.K., promised: “We will put the fun back into buying a car. It’s small, it’s intimate. There’s nothing intimidating about stepping in here. Buying a car should be fun”.

Polestar is far from the only auto-maker to open a mall outlet, Tesla has been there for some time, as have many traditional auto brands. With the widespread use of leasing, monthly payments are much more akin to retail spend than the high ticket price of a one-off auto purchase, making such outlets suited to a mall environment. Such locations also enable vehicle brands to attract more women into their outlets, who are often put-off by the stereotype of the traditional male-oriented auto-dealership.

Polestar Pledges To “Unprecedented” Expansion

In ramping up its sales space with Destinations, Polestar chief executive, Thomas Ingenlath, said: “We are expanding both within markets in which we already have a presence and into new markets extremely rapidly. As a brand that has only been fully operational for just over 12 months, this sort of footprint is unprecedented.

“We aim to expand at a similar rate in terms of new markets in 2022 as well. This continued pace, combined with new retail concepts, will support our goal to exceed our owners’ expectations.”

Polestar Spaces locations and head of sales, Mike Whittington, said: “A refined online buying environment is backed-up by physical locations to help drive awareness and sales. Our new Destinations concept gives customers even more access to the brand, and fits some of our newer markets particularly well.”

Polestar is also upscaling the digital team at its global HQ in Gothenburg, Sweden, and has avowed to become a top employer for digital and tech talent globally after breaking onto the scene in 2017 with grand ambitions to rival Tesla as a premium EV brand. It has been selling a limited-release performance hybrid and recently brought its first fully electric car to market, the Polestar 2, to compete with the Tesla Model 3. It has also announced plans to begin production of electric SUV Polestar 3 in the U.S. at Ridgeville, South Carolina next year and also in China – its two largest markets.

Volvo recently re-established its stake in Polestar to 49.5% after dilution by a fundraising program in April, when Polestar received $550 million from investors including Chongqing Chengxing Equity Investment Fund Partnership, Zibo Financial Holding, Zibo Hightech Industrial Investment and South Korean conglomerate SK.

The move, said Volvo, reflects its “strong conviction” in Polestar’s positioning and potential. Polestar’s origins hail back to 1996 and Jan Nilsson’s Flash Engineering race team. The Volvo-affiliated team was sold to Christian Dahl in 2005, assuming the Polestar name, and Volvo acquired the tuning division in 2015 and spun it off as an independent auto-maker two years later.

Read The Full Story