How Volvo’s Polestar plans to sell its electric vehicles in North America


Polestar, the Chinese-financed luxury venture, gave Pebble Beach audiences their first American glimpse of the Polestar 1, the new brand’s promised Tesla Model 3 fighter. Photo credit: LINDSAY CHAPPELL

UPDATED: 9/20/18 1:25 pm ET – corrected

Editor’s note: Polestar is emphasizing that its retail boutiques will be 100 percent franchised. An earlier version of this story misstated the role of franchises in Polestar’s retail spaces. 

Polestar Performance AB announced details on Thursday of the framework it will use to promote sales for its new electric cars, the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2.

The marque is the performance luxury brand of Volvo Cars, owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.

The idea behind the service is less like leasing or car-sharing and more like Netflix, with customers choosing from an all-inclusive subscription model that combines automotive costs like insurance and maintenance into a single monthly payment. There will be no money required up front. 

Retail spaces planned for North America will be no-commission “guide shops” where buyers can evaluate the cars in real life without feeling pressure to buy from salespeople. Consumers will also be able to research, configure, and purchase the Polestar vehicles online at any time. 

The model is similar in some regards to Tesla, which installed boutique shops in trendy neighborhoods as it rolled out its cars, however, the so-called Polestar Spaces will be franchised but will not be like traditional dealerships.

Polestar North America will open its first retail space in New York in late 2019 or early 2020, with additional “spaces” in Canada soon to follow, according to a company statement released Sept. 20. Representatives from Volvo’s electric performance brand said they have also been meeting with 60 retailers worldwide to represent Polestar, with shops in each of the first markets to open in time for deliveries of its hybrid and electric coupes.

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