A Polestar isn’t a Tesla. But that’s actually part of the appeal, said Danny O’Malley.
“We believe our brand is superior than Tesla’s in quality,” said O’Malley, dealer and owner of Volvo Cars Tampa, which began selling the Swedish electric car brand in November. “A lot of people have had the Teslas. Last month we had four trade-in Teslas, where they traded their Tesla for a Polestar 2, because they were looking for something different.”
Come 2022, drivers curious about the Polestar brand will be able to shop at their own local showroom.
Polestar plans to open its first Florida dealer store at Midtown Tampa, the $500 million mixed-use development near Interstate 275 and N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. As with Tesla, the company won’t have a traditional dealership-style lot, but a boutique 2,500-square-foot showroom where they can order a car with the specs they want.
Polestar has just 20 showrooms nationwide, but more are planned, including four in South Florida. Volvo owns 50 percent of the company, but the brands operate separately, said O’Malley, who will run the Midtown Tampa showroom. A base Polestar 2 starts at around $50,000, while the sportier Polestar 1 can run north of $150,000.
“As a brand, compared to Volvo and Volkswagen, it’s too young to even be in the same ballpark,” he said. “We’re just trying to show the brand off and try and get as many test drivers as we can to show off the product.”
Placing a store in a high-traffic retail area like Midtown should help with brand awareness. New-car buyers, especially those thinking of going electric, prefer showrooms to lots, O’Malley said. There they can custom-order cars and have them delivered weeks later.
“The car-buying experience is changing dramatically, and faster than anybody expected,” O’Malley said. “You don’t need to have 500 cars in a huge lot on Main Street to sell cars anymore. Tesla has changed the experience, and now other manufacturers are catching on.”
O’Malley expects Tampa’s Polestar dealership to open by March or April. He’d looked at other locations for months, but Midtown, which has retail openings planned throughout early 2022, was the best geographic fit.
“It’s a central location close to 275 for customers coming from Orlando or Sarasota, or even coming from Carrollwood or South Tampa,” he said. “It really checked all the boxes.”