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Leasing companies key to Polestar brand building

One of the first things Polestar did was talk to the major players in leasing to find out what their pain points were and how we could fill any gaps. The company provides the opportunity for fleet managers and leasing companies to come into its facilities to meet staff and drive our the cars. They are also encouraged to send their drivers or customers to visit.
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January 30, 2023

LEASING companies and fleet managers have played a major part in the successful launch of the all-electric Polestar brand in the UK.

Around 80% of UK sales are into fleet with leasing companies key to the growth of the EV start-up which first launched in the UK in 2020..

Head of Sales Matt Hawkins said that one of the first things Polestar did was talk to the major players in leasing to find out what their pain points were and how we could fill any gaps. he added: “We provide the opportunity for fleet managers and leasing companies to come into our facilities to meet us and drive our cars. We also encourage them to send their drivers or customers in to see us.

VMP Matt Hawkins BW 4
Matt Hawkins 

“Once we get a car into the company car park, then the interest starts to grow. We still have a long way to go and we are developing systems in partnership with leasing companies so that through our portal people can order, see lead times and pre-configured stock, what’s available for delivery, tracking, invoicing etc.

“They can even see how much carbon was used in the manufacture and what it will produce over the life of the car. We already have plans to bring cars into second life once they are finished with. Our growth will be organic, we will not be forcing volume or stating sales targets. Growth has to take into account residual values and remarketing.

“We have found that once the leasing companies open their customers’ eyes to Polestar, then the interest grows and the momentum builds.”

Hawkins said the retail proposition at the Polestar ‘spaces’ is geared around the customer rather than the transaction. “There is no sales patter or finance discussion, the staff concentrate on the customer requirement and what they want to know about the car.

“What we are seeing, particularly with electric cars, is a massive growth in salary sacrifice and pressure on fleet managers to get drivers back into company cars and away from grey fleets.

Launched in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of its staff have worked from home until recently moving into the brand’s new administrative home at Bicester Heritage. This is in addition to three other Polestar ‘spaces’ in Battersea Power Station, Manchester Trafford Centre and Touchwood, Solihull.

Managing Director Jonathan Goodman said that four more spaces are planned this year including Bristol and Glasgow as the company looks to increase sales from 7,300 last year – up from 4,000 in 2021 – to 8,000 in 2022.

He added: “We are looking to do things differently from the established dealers model. I’ve been around a number of brands for many years and often wondered why we do things the same way and expect the same things from dealers.

Jonathan Goodman Large 1
Jonathan Goodman

“We are not looking to disrupt, but just to change. Our Polestar spaces are staffed by people who do not have an automotive background, they are drawn from the hospitality and service sectors. Their job is to explain and show people around the cars – not to actually sell them or give them finance details.

“The admin is taken care of centrally. We hold all the inventory and the customer, both retail and fleet, can specify and order their car, sort out finance etc, through our portal.”

So this is the agency model that some OEMs are looking at? “Not in the strictest terms,” said Goodman. “As well as the spaces we can organise one-off test drive events and we have 115 aftersales contracts with Volvo dealers.”

Polestar was established in 2017 as a new, standalone Swedish premium electric vehicle manufacturer. Founded by Volvo Cars and China’s Geely Holding, it enjoys specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefits from significant economies of scale as a result.

It’s first car, Polestar 2, sits on Volvo’s SMA XC40 platform while the new Polestar 3 SUV, launched last year, shares the XC90 underpinnings. Sales globally hit 51,500 cars in 2021 with  hopes for 80,000 this year and 290,000 around the world by 2025.

 

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Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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