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Polestar built a better car than Tesla; now it needs to build a better brand – TechCrunch

Polestar is a startup in an uncommon state of affairs. Polestar has the car. It has the executives. Polestar has factories, companions, and distribution channels. It’s set for fulfillment in a method most startups usually are not. And but, success is just not assured. I concern Polestar is lacking a crucial side of electrical autos and promoting in opposition to Tesla.

I anticipate this might be a vital level of dialogue with Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath at TechCrunch Periods: Mobility. We’re excited to have Ingenlath be part of the occasion for a hearth chat on the corporate and electrical autos’ future.

Over the previous few weeks, I’ve pushed each of Polestar’s autos and attended briefings. I’ve realized about their roll-out plan, goal demographics, and numerous technical particulars concerning the firm’s $155,000 hybrid coupe (full review) and $60,000 electrical sedan (first drive review). It’s an enchanting firm that constructed two world-class autos capable of stand tall in opposition to something from Tesla, Mercedes, or BMW.

However Polestar is lacking the Tesla issue, and I concern gross sales will lag due to it.

Polestar is seemingly following an analogous product cycle as Tesla by providing a limited-run tremendous sports activities automotive adopted by extra inexpensive household automobiles. The Polestar 1 is the corporate’s Tesla Roadster whereas the Polestar 2 is its Tesla Mannequin S.

Picture Credit: Matt Burns

I famous this comparable in my write-up concerning the unbelievable Polestar 1 hybrid grand tourer. The massive coupe is excellent, with wonderful driving traits and top-notch match and end. The Polestar 1 doesn’t really feel like the primary automobile from a startup. Evaluate the Polestar 1 to an early Tesla Roadster (and even present Mannequin 3), and the variations are profound. The Polestar 1 appears and feels pretty much as good as something from Mercedes or BMW, and higher than any Tesla mannequin.

And but, match and end is just not sufficient to promote in opposition to Tesla as a result of Tesla created a sensible and thrilling ecosystem round its autos.

It begins with Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, who alone has a social media presence many multiples bigger than Polestar’s. With a charismatic chief on the helm, customers are extra probably to concentrate. What’s extra, Elon Musk incessantly responds and interacts with Tesla homeowners on Twitter. Love him or hate him, Elon Musk is the world’s finest automotive salesman.

Polestar’s social media presence is small. Instagram appears to be it’s largest channel as its posted 1,366 gadgets to its 356,000 followers. On Fb, Polestar has 461,000 followers, however the firm hasn’t posted any photos, tales, or posts. YouTube is extra of the identical the place Polestar solely has 40,000 subscribers as a substitute of Tesla’s 1.four million.

The shortage of social outreach appears antiquated and short-sited; we’ll discuss this on the Mobility occasion.

Polestar CEO Ingenlath appears completely different from Elon Musk in a number of crucial elements. He’s measured and centered and seems to be piloting Polestar extra like a standard automaker than a free-wheeling startup — that’s probably on account of his previous positions inside Volvo and Volkswagen Group. He joined Volvo in 2012 and have become the CEO of the Polestar subsidiary in 2017. Earlier than Volvo, he was the chief exterior designer for Volkswagen, Chief Designer at Skoda, and eventually, the Director of Design on the Volkswagen Design Heart.

Polestar is technically an OEM like BMW, Normal Motors, or Tesla. The corporate was spun out of Volvo, the place it was beforehand a efficiency division akin to Mercedes Benz’ AMG division. In 2017 Volvo and Geely (which owns Volvo) spun Polestar out of the fold, though Polestar nonetheless retains relationships with each of its mother and father.



Being an OEM means it’s extra by itself to chart its path to success or failure. As a startup, Polestar faces the identical challenges as different startups, most notably different automotive startups like Tesla, Rivian, or Nio.

In an August name with Polestar, CEO Thomas Ingenlath talked concerning the firm’s retail plans. Not like Tesla, Polestar autos will solely be bought by partnerships with dealerships. Polestar autos won’t be bought on to customers. Ingenlath mentioned the corporate is working with present Volvo dealerships although the corporate has fielded outreach from BMW, Mercedes, and different dealerships seeking to promote Polestar autos.

Utilizing present dealership relationships, Polestar shortly spun up a supplier and repair community, whereas bypassing the difficulty Tesla usually faces in states with dealership legal guidelines.

Polestar additionally intends to make use of present dealerships to construct showcase retail places in high-traffic areas just like these produced by Tesla. Will consumers nonetheless should haggle with a dealership salesperson when shopping for a Polestar automobile? It’s unclear, and it’s probably some potential consumers might be turned off by the thought having to make use of a dealership for gross sales and repair.

The electrical automobile scene is shortly rising up, and Polestar’s positioning places it in an unusually mature state of affairs forward of different comparable age startups.

It’s thrilling to have Thomas Ingenlath converse at TC Sessions: Mobility. As outlined above, there are many subjects to debate. Ingenloth is the newest in our all-star lineup of speakers, together with Bryan Salesky, Co-founder, and CEO of Argo AI, Klaus Zellmer, President, and CEO of Porsche Automobiles North America, and Tekedra Mawakana, Chief Working Officer at Waymo.

We hope you possibly can take part October 6-7, 2020 on the occasion. For the primary time, TC Sessions: Mobility is a digital occasion, and we’ve constructed unimaginable options into our platform to present attendees unparalleled entry to audio system, buyers, and fellow founders. Get a ticket here.

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Matt Burns