After aiming directly at Tesla with the launch of the Polestar 2 almost two years ago, Polestar Automotive Australia says it will leave volume sales to its US rival and instead compete with traditional luxury brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Speaking this week at the launch of the new MY2024 Polestar 2, which opens $10,000 upstream of the entry-level Tesla Model 3 (after the two were identically priced at launch in 2021), Polestar Automotive Australia managing director Samantha Johnson said the Swedish-Chinese EV specialist wasn’t in catch-up mode but instead was now on a “different path”.
She also suggested that Tesla’s clear EV market leadership in Australia might not last.
Tesla dominates the electric vehicle landscape Down Under with its top-selling Model Y SUV and Model 3 sedan, which have racked up 29,511 sales so far this year (to the end of July).
By comparison, Polestar has shifted 1453 sales of the Polestar, which is almost as many as it sold for the entire year in 2022 (1524).
Figures presented by the company also show that Polestar has become one of the top 10 premium brands in Australia this year – outselling the likes of Alfa Romeo, Genesis and Jaguar – and that it’s ranked fifth in the total market for EV sales, sitting behind Tesla, BYD, MG and Polestar’s sister brand Volvo but ahead of Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Kia and Porsche.
The Polestar 2 ranks fourth among the premium electric cars behind the Tesla twins and the Volvo XC40 EV, but ahead of the likes of the BMW iX and Mercedes-Benz EQA, EQB and EQE.
Asked by carsales how Polestar would catch up to Tesla with the more expensive new Polestar 2, Johnson said: “We’re not trying to catch up to Tesla.
“We’re on a different path to other brands. We are very much moving into the more luxury space; we believe in our products being premium, we’re a premium brand.
“We’re moving up towards luxury with our Polestar 3 [large SUV] coming into the market. We have no intention of following other brands with lowering prices or price wars, so we’re sticking to our path.
“We’re not chasing volume. We’re chasing sustainable growth as a premium brand.
“We’re not just chasing volume for nothing.”
Interior of the MY24 Polestar 2
The updated MY24 Polestar 2 has seen a price hike of up to $4000 across the four-variant range – which now starts at $67,400 plus on-road costs – putting at least a $10,000 wedge between it and the most affordable Tesla Model 3 ($57,400 plus ORCs).
But Johnson is confident sales of the 2 will only get stronger, thanks to increased value and performance.
“People have shown they are very interested, and they are very willing to pay that for that quality, for that higher performance,” she said.
“We are not looking in the mass market, we are not looking to have higher volume and lower pricing. If anything, with Polestar 3 and 4 coming onboard, we are looking to go further up into the luxury area of the market.
“Our vehicles will improve in quality and performance and our prices will match what that quality is.”
The incoming Polestar 4 coupe-SUV, which is on track to arrive late in the third quarter of 2024, is tipped to become the brand’s top-selling model both in Australia and globally.
The pair of SUVs will be key in bridging the gap to the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz when it comes to outright sales, a feat Johnson believes is possible.
“We are number 10 in the premium brands at the moment with one product. Then we have the Polestar 3 and the Polestar 4 coming in. And that Polestar 4 is going to bring us to the next level,” she said.
“So, when we have got all our product range in the market, and we are providing that excellent customer experience – our brand growth is growing faster than some other brands that are already established in the market – I can see us getting right up there with the Mercedes, BMWs and Audis, and being right up there.”
Johnson would not put a definitive timeframe on it, but said it could happen in as little as five years.
As for Tesla and its whopping 59 per cent EV market share, Johnson said the auto industry is fast-paced and that the US brand’s glory days could be numbered.
“Every brand has a lifecycle, they are popular for a period of time and then they move. Something new comes in and you see that with Tesla and others when they have come in. The world changes very fast these days,” she said.