ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE: Polestar's fresh fleet thinking
16 June 2021
Business Car has an exclusive chat with Polestar's UK head of sales Matt Hawkins to investigate the substance behind the sustainable electric car company's UK business offering.
Only one car company in the world can claim to be truly 'design-led'. That's because Polestar's Thomas Ingenlath is the only global automotive CEO who was previously a highly successful designer - most recently at sister brand Volvo - before taking on his current wider role. It's evident in everything the minimalist Swedish brand does, from its retail spaces, website and head office, to its key car, the elegant five-door fastback Polestar 2.
Now available in three all-electric versions, there's certainly a car to suit UK fleets, big or small. The Standard range Single motor, from £39,900, offers 273 miles of range, 224hp and 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds; the Long range Single motor, from £42,900, provides 335 miles, 231hp (and the same 0-60mph time); and then there's the sportier Long range Dual motor from £45,900 with 298 miles, 408hp and 0-60mph delivered in a wonderfully linear and rapid 4.7 seconds. Add in great ride and handling, and the innovative Google Android operating system for the latest infotainment experience, and the Polestar 2 really stacks up against other premium EVs.
The new electrified car brand also places greater emphasis on sustainability than most, with CEO Ingenlath publicly stating Polestar's goal to build a truly carbon-neutral vehicle by 2030 - without resorting to carbon offsets - something he calls a 'cop-out'. And that process is under way, with its Chinese factory already independently accredited to the highest environmental standards. Consequently, it's safe to expect current and future Polestar products to be superbly-designed and as transparently-sustainable as possible. But can they also make practical sense for British fleets? Newly-installed Polestar UK head of sales Matt Hawkins is on a mission to prove just that, and alongside his new fleet manager, brings a wealth of UK-specific business experience.
"We want to flip the traditional buying process on its head so it becomes a brand- rather than sales-led experience," Hawkins begins. "Come along to a Polestar space or event and you won't get asked about part-exchanges or monthly budgets. It's purely about getting to know Polestar. Then you're free to place your order on the website or via your fleet manager, to choose the process you want. We have a fleet business page on the website and something that really helps the small business end of the fleet market is that you can go through the whole Polestar leasing journey online, get a personal or business lease quotation and tailor it via annual mileage or months of rental, choose maintenance or not, and then place your order." Bigger fleets can contact Polestar's new fleet manager. "We really want to support end-user fleets by maximising our relationship with the leasing companies," Hawkins continues, "to arm them with the product and brand knowledge their account managers need to present Polestar. We can be as hands-on or off as they want, doing product presentations and ride-and-drives, or just handing over a piece of paper saying what we offer."
The brand has no traditional dealership locations in the UK, but is rolling out further 'Polestar spaces' to join its recently launched ones in the Westfield shopping centre, west London and in The Trafford Centre, Manchester. These spaces are supplemented by events across the country, and for the right customer and circumstances, via individual corporate demonstrators too. Crucially, Polestar's links with Volvo, as part of the wider Geely Group, provides access to comprehensive aftersales too. "There are 100-plus Volvo service sites across the country set up to manage the aftersales process for Polestar," Hawkins says. "Customers contact Polestar in the first instance and, depending on what is needed, can be directed to their local Volvo dealer. That's comforting for fleets as it's familiar. They're not going to be plunged into a 'telephonic abyss' waiting for someone to turn up and collect their car, but instead [they] know where the car's going, that it's local and that the dealer has excellent skills and knowledge."
Fleet discounts - often neglected by more retail-focused brands - are on the table with Polestar as well. "I'm a big believer in a true economy of scale," reasons Hawkins. "As a fleet customer, you can often walk into a dealership and be offered a better deal for a single car than a fleet manager will get through a leasing company for 500 cars. I don't think that's right. Depending on how much business a customer wants to do with us, we tailor our proposition, whether the support they need is in the form of discount on the car or demonstrators, or the expertise we can bring in product knowledge." And how about lead times? Building of the new three-strong Polestar 2 range starts in June 2021 for a September delivery, but there are other options, as Hawkins adds: "We aim to have an element of preconfigured cars that allows customers to get delivery a little more quickly than a build-to-order."
If you do choose to go bespoke, there are deliberately only a few options to choose from. "When a customer has made a mindset change to an EV, having lots of model and trim levels only complicates things," Hawkins explains, "so, in keeping with our minimalist approach to the market and design, a similar approach to the product line-up really helps. There are a few curated pack choices." Accordingly, the Plus pack includes the mileage-preserving heat pump, panoramic roof and vegan weave-tech interior, while the Pilot pack has many driver safety aids like blind spot recognition and lane-keep assist. This simpler offering also has residual value benefits, which can help fleets, even if they're just leasing the car. "What we've done with the likes of CAP is get them to list our cars with the option packs and their residual values, which helps the monthly payment on a leasing deal, because you're not paying the full value of those options over the three or four-year lease, only the cost of them new - minus the uplift in residual values. So, it saves customers money."
All of which suggests Polestar's UK operation really knows fleet. Pair that traditional business savvy with one of the most modern-looking and innovative EVs in the market, a trusted aftersales network and a global management truly aiming for a more sustainable future, and Polestar becomes a proposition that is easy to admire and hard to fault. Maybe visit polestar.com and try one for yourself.