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The newly-launched Polestar brand has big plans for the Australian market, eyeing off significant sales volume despite the local market's tepid appetite, so far, for electric cars.
Speaking to media at the launch of the 2022 Polestar 2, the brand's global CEO Thomas Ingenlath revealed aspirations of breaking through to a mainstream audience with blockbuster pricing (starting from $59,990 before on-road costs), despite its claimed positioning as a premium alternative targeting rivals like Porsche.
When asked if the brand expects sales numbers in the same league as the similarly priced Tesla Model 3, which has shipped just over 9000 units to Australia so far in 2021, the Mr Ingenlath didn’t mince words: “Yes, we have mainstream sales expectations for cars like the Polestar 2.”
“It is important we are commercially successful, but I want to make the distinction from Tesla – we’re not this kind of volume growth brand that aims for mass market, to take on the likes of Volkswagen Group,” he said.
“We still want to maintain this premium and luxurious position. That’s not to say, aside from Polestar 2, we’re only going to do cars, you know, upwards of $150,000. Not like Aston Martin.
“We want to position ourselves maybe somewhere in the space between Tesla and Aston Martin. I think there is a space for that entry-level step in the premium market.”
Mr Ingenlath singled out other brands he considers more direct rivals for the Polestar 2’s target audience, like BMW and Audi. The brand has also promised its next models, thus far confirmed to include the Polestar 3 'Aero' SUV, Polestar 4 mid-size SUV, and Polestar 5 GT, would all be more upmarket offerings in comparison to the Polestar 2 crossover. Regardless, the brand has an ambitious target for its four-vehicle lineup of 290,000 global sales by 2025.
Interestingly, the brand’s local division is not necessarily expecting its sales mix to replicate that of the successful Tesla Model 3, where the entry-level standard range rear-drive takes the lion’s share of sales.
“We expect a lot of the interest to be for the long-range single motor, to deal with that concern around range anxiety,” explained the brand’s local managing director Samantha Johnson, conceding that the brand expects to learn much about the preference of buyers from its first local deliveries slated for Febuary 2022. The mid-grade Long Range 2WD starts from $64,900 and offers up to 540km of range on the WLTP cycle from its 78kWh battery. The base $59,900 standard range 2WD offers 440km from its smaller 69kWh battery.
The brand’s executives, both locally and internationally, expect a high uptake of options on the cars, with rear-facing safety features, a 360-degree parking camera and adaptive cruise control behind a $5000 paywall on the front-wheel-drive Standard Range and Long Range variants.
Polestar's local executives note that if you add either the Safety or Plus Pack on the base car, you are still under the threshold to receive the $3000 EV rebate in NSW and Victoria.
How, you ask, is Polestar able to achieve such keen pricing for its first mass-market model? Aside from Australia’s proximity to China, where the majority of Polestar models will be built, there is a puzzling difference between the price of cars headed here, and ones headed to the US or UK, in a rare case of Australians getting a better deal.
Polestar’s New Market PR boss, Brent Ellis explained: “One of the factors that makes it difficult to compare price with those markets – there’s a heavy tariff situation with products travelling from China to the US – Brexit certainly didn’t help things for the UK’s import situation either.”
The Polestar 2 will be exclusively available by order online in January 2022. Potential buyers will be able to see the car in person at temporary Polestar "activations" at retail locations initially, which will be followed by permanent "Polestar Spaces" at retail locations in every capital city bar Darwin.
The first Polestar Spaces are expected to open around the middle of next year. Polestar products will be able to make use of at least some of Volvo's network for servicing and after-sales support.