Polestar’s cars aren’t the only thing about the brand that’s unusual. We touched briefly on the subscription sales model when we brought you the Polestar 1’s reveal, but now’s the time to look closer.
First things first: it won’t be the same as leasing, despite it being based on equal monthly payments over two to three years before handing the car back. Polestar’s idea is basically the same one used by Netflix and Spotify. You simply sign up with no deposit and then pay your bill every month. The one difference is that Polestar’s has an end date, whereas Spotify will quite happily keep taking your money forever until you cancel.
This is an all-inclusive subscription, covering all necessary maintenance and servicing – including the cost of the man (or woman) who comes to fetch it and return it either side of its service. It mirrors Volvo’s concierge programme, giving authorised staff a one-time use code on their smartphone that lets them into your vehicle, so you won’t even have to hand it over yourself. We’re not sure how we feel about that, especially if the car comes back with scratches or an upturned hotdog on the passenger seat, but I digress.
It’s a modern business model for modern buyers. It’s likely to be more expensive than traditional ways of buying a car, but it’s minimal hassle. Convenience is king, these days, and for those ‘buyers’ who have the money, that degree of car ownership convenience will make the Polestar 1 seem more luxurious than just about anything else this side of a Rolls-Royce.
Naturally, Polestar hasn’t hit us with numbers yet, but the monthly subscription for a new one will be a fat four-figure wedge of cash. There’ll be a secondary subscription option when the car is two or three years old, too. When it gets to five or six years old, it’ll most likely be sold outright.
Of course, people should be able to buy one outright from new if they insist. It’ll cost around £130,000, and some collectors might choose to pay that and whack the car straight into a climate-controlled warehouse. Polestar’s chief operating officer, Jonathan Goodman, told Cnet that:
“I think it would be very difficult to me to turn around to a customer who walks in with a ‘hundred-and-x thousand dollars’ and says, ‘I want to buy one.’ I think I’m not particularly convinced that I’ll be turning them away and saying, ‘Absolutely not, sir or madam. You have to have it on subscription.’ I think subscription is going to be a key part of it.”
Insurance doesn’t seem to be covered as part of the deal, and obviously you’ll still need to fuel and charge it at your own expense. Ordering, on the other hand, is simple. It’s an online-only system.
Several mainstream brands have also started moving towards an online car sales model, which removes the potential for haggling money off and, ultimately, cuts dealership overheads. Peugeot has even offered its ‘Just Add Fuel’ scheme, where every cost, from servicing to road tax and insurance is all included in one monthly payment.
There’s no doubt it’s more convenient, and it’s easy to argue that these days we’re lazier than we used to be. You can order the car while sitting in your Calvin Kleins on the sofa, if you want, there’s no deposit to find and you know what’s coming out of your (in this case) deep, deep pockets every month. In short, it’s never going to be the cheapest choice, but it’s sure as hell the easiest.
‘Easy’ sells. The next generation of car buyers are used to monthly subscriptions for their music, their television and their phones. Subscriptions make it easy, and you can bet your life – even bet your beloved car – that we’ll be seeing more subscription-based renting schemes in the near future.