Buying a Polestar has been billed by the automaker as simple as a few clicks on a smartphone. How very Tesla like.
In reality, there are some slight growing pains as the new EV brand takes advantage of its relationship with an established automaker, Volvo. But the slick process first modeled by Tesla is coming along.
Polestar staging at Volvo dealership
Polestar and Volvo representatives have said for years that you won't be able to buy a Polestar at a Volvo dealership. While that's true, there's one slight caveat: Some Volvo dealerships in certain regions are acting as temporary Polestar staging areas for a matter of weeks—no longer than three months per instance—while lease agreements and build-outs are taking place.
That's a situation Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid didn't and don't have at their disposal.
The process to buy a 2022 Polestar 2 is as simple as going to the Polestar website, configuring a Polestar 2, entering some basic personal information, and putting down a $500 deposit. Then theoretically, a car will be delivered directly to you, or to the closest Polestar Space, in a few weeks.
Polestar 2 ordering page
I walked through the process online right up until the point of putting down a $500 deposit, then bailed. It worked as advertised. A key difference between Tesla and Polestar emerged about 14 hours later: My phone rang and it was a Polestar Concierge. They saw I had walked through the process of building a Polestar 2 right up to the point of putting down a deposit, and wanted to know if I had any questions or needed any assistance finding a local Space to take a test drive or see a car in person.
Alternatively, you can go and pick up a car that is currently sitting at a Polestar Space without needing to wait, should a spec you desire be on the lot. Polestar Spaces keep a handful of cars on hand for customers who want a car within 48 hours, according to Polestar Americas' head of communications and PR, John Paolo Canton.
Polestar isn't supposed to have dealerships like Volvo, nor does it have stores like Tesla. It has Spaces. While Volvo dealerships are warm tones with wood, Polestar Spaces are supposed to be more modern, cold, white and black. Canton said this distinction is because the buyer base between Polestar and Volvo is different with Polestar having a more performance-centric minimalist feel.
In 2020 there were 3 Polestar Spaces in the U.S. market. That number increased by 20 in 2021 and there will be 25 Spaces in the U.S. by the end of the year, according to Canton. The plan calls for that to increase to 35 Spaces by the end of 2022.
Polestar's spending time to decide where Spaces should be located. Between locating, building, and finalizing permits each space is taking anywhere from 8 to 14 months to get up and running. To offset this long ramp, Polestar's pop-up stores can both serve as low-cost testing for new markets or just a way to get floor space up and running in a matter of three to five weeks. These pop-up stores can even complement a permanent Space.
Visually there's no difference between a pop-up store and a Space to a consumer. But on the business side a Pop-Up Store usually has only a one- or two-year lease, while a Space will either have a long-term lease or simply be owned by Polestar. The pop-up stores aren't tents, these are fully-finished showrooms. "These aren't Scotch tape and bubble gum setups," Canton told GCR.
Polestar service at a Volvo dealership
Polestar service will mostly be handled by Volvo dealerships that are affiliated with a Polestar Space, though some Spaces might have a service center onsite. Customers never have to step foot in a Volvo dealership, or Polestar Space, should they not want to. For any service needs Polestar has 150-mile complimentary pickup and delivery services, both for taking delivery of a vehicle and servicing needs. But it's important to note that not every Volvo dealership will service Polestars.
Buying a Polestar is being billed as simple; and simple may have a different meaning depending on the customer. Whether they want to click through the process on a smartphone and have the car delivered, or they want a test drive and a car sitting at a Space, there are options. Which sounds like a good template for the future of car buying.