After Polestar's 2019 inception into the United States auto space, one thing was certain: it was serious about its EVs. After a little over two years into the American market, Polestar now not only operates over 20 U.S.-based retail locations, but has also sold 29,000 vehicles globally in 2021 alone, an 185% increase over 2021. However, while Polestar's presence has proliferated immensely in a relatively short period, it hasn't been a simple undertaking.
Polestar's history is quite unique when compared to most other automotive OEMs. Polestar's nameplate was originally used by a racing team that worked on Volvos dating back to the 90s. But when Volvo saw Polestar's potential, Volvo bought it out to use as its own performance division. Several years prior, Geely had acquired Volvo, so both companies own around a 50% stake in Polestar.
In 2017, Volvo announced that Polestar would become a standalone brand producing high-end electric vehicles. Two years later, Polestar delivered its first car stateside: the Polestar 1, a limited production $155,000 plug-in hybrid grand tourer. Following the release of the 1, the firm began delivering the 2, a $47,200 fully-electric sedan rivaling the Model 3.
In the auto world, an independent company releasing two bespoke EVs in such a short period isn't typical. That's because Polestar has an ability that very few electric car startups have: the ability to scale with Volvo. "The ability to actually use Volvo as a very high springboard has benefitted us a tremendous amount," Gregor Hembrough, the Head of Polestar North America, told InsideEVs.
Despite Volvo's influence, Polestar still had its own struggle of developing an unknown EV company in a very brand loyal country. "Launching a car company is not an easy task. Launching a car company with a new propulsion system is an even more challenging task," Hembrough said.
However, to increase demand and create more brand awareness, the firm decided to implement a compelling vision. "Not only did we launch a new brand and a new product in a new propulsion system, but we launched a new business model," Hembrough told InsideEVs. This business model incorporates an inner-connected ecosystem featuring online sales, over-the-air vehicle updates, and a direct-to-consumer dealership style that eliminates the intermediaries between Polestar and the prospective owner.
"You're not going to be walking into a showroom; we're going to be having a small boutique setting with very limited inventory just in case you need a car today or tomorrow— and everything is transparent in the pricing," Hembrough said. "Our [sales] teams are not on commission, so they're on salaries; if you come in and you consummate a sale or whether we just have a great and very favorable meet and greet, there's not going to be that lure."
Currently, Polestar has around 25 of these spaces open and available to visit in the country. Polestar's debut into opening physical retail locations has been a favorable decision to get more interested in the brand. But retail is just one aspect of the ecosystem, and the car itself is what determines the sales.
Polestar's volume model, the 2, starts at $47,200, including destination, and it qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit, effectively lowering its price to just under $40,000. Including the credit, it undercuts the similarly-sized Tesla Model 3 RWD by $8,500. Even opting in for the 408 horsepower dual-motor powertrain, the Polestar 2 will still cost $4,500 less with the credit.
"When you get into a Polestar 2, you'll see that there's no compromise when it comes to performance, design, technology, innovation, range, and versatility," Hembrough told InsideEVs. Depending on which variant, the Polestar 2 has 249-270 miles of range and an infotainment system powered by Android that allows for very favorable user interactions.
But the 2 is just one facet of Polestar's plan. Polestar is planning for the launches of several additional vehicles, including a large sedan and a mid-size SUV dubbed the "3." The Polestar 3 will be a key vehicle in its lineup, and unlike the 1 and 2, the 3 will be built in South Carolina versus China.
As Polestar is making its new home in the United States market, Hembrough says that as more people become aware of EVs in general, Polestar will grow too.
"I welcome more competition," Hembrough told InsideEVs. "My old adage is 'a high tide floats all boats,' so as competition comes into the marketplace, more people become considerate of EVs."