Volvo Wants Its Electric Polestar Brand to Have an Apple Retail Experience

Volvo’s standalone electric performance brand outlined its plans on Thursday for selling a car to compete with Tesla in a retail experience to rival Apple.

Polestar Cars says it will begin opening “Apple store-like” showrooms in the U.S. late next year in time for the launch of its first vehicle, the 600-horsepower Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid sports car. Headquartered alongside its Volvo Car Group parent company in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Rockleigh, N.J., Polestar is considering sites in 10 cities.

The $155,000 car will have an electric range of 93 miles, less than half of the fully electric Model S sedan but longer than most plug-in hybrids on the market. The company is building a factory in Chengdu, China to product 500 cars annually for the first three years. The first year’s run is already sold out.

Like Tesla and other luxury automakers, Polestar is following an industry trend to take the “hassle” out of car ownership by bringing the shopping process online. It’s also foregoing traditional leasing for the Polestar 1 in favor of cash sales or a subscription model that includes insurance and basic maintenance and eliminates down payments and residuals.

Polestar said it will open its first round of stores in or around 10 cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas or Houston, Boston, and Atlanta. Another 10 to 20 will follow in the U.S. and Canada, according to spokesman John Paolo Canton. The first stores are expected to open in late 2019 or early 2020, in time for deliveries of Polestar 1, and its second car, a Tesla Model 3 competitor named Polestar 2 that will be priced between $45,000 and $55,000.

The stores will serve as a “guide shop where you can look, touch and feel, but the final transaction will be online,” Canton said. “Basically you get more of an Apple store experience.”

The staff will not work on commission, “so there’s no pressure to buy,” he added.

Negotiations are also underway with investors for around 75 Polestar stores globally, from Oslo to Beijing,Canton said. The cars will not be sold in Volvo dealerships.

CarsJaclyn TropFortune