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Florida’s first Polestar EV dealership will open in Tampa in 2022

The Volvo-backed electric-car maker, a Tesla competitor, will have a showroom at Midtown Tampa.
Polestar electric vehicles are displayed at Auto Shanghai 2021. The Swedish carmaker will open its first Florida showroom at Midtown Tampa in early 2022.
Polestar electric vehicles are displayed at Auto Shanghai 2021. The Swedish carmaker will open its first Florida showroom at Midtown Tampa in early 2022. [ Polestar ]
Published Dec. 15, 2021|Updated Dec. 20, 2021

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.”

Danny O'Malley, left, and Nick Haines chat near a new Polestar electric car at Midtown Tampa on Dec. 14. O'Malley, who runs Volvo Cars Tampa, will open a showroom for the Swedish automaker at the mixed-use development, run by the Bromley Cos., of which Haines is CEO.
Danny O'Malley, left, and Nick Haines chat near a new Polestar electric car at Midtown Tampa on Dec. 14. O'Malley, who runs Volvo Cars Tampa, will open a showroom for the Swedish automaker at the mixed-use development, run by the Bromley Cos., of which Haines is CEO. [ Walker Brands ]
Related: It's a bad time to buy used cars in Tampa Bay. Blame the supply chain.

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.”

Related: Used cars, high prices: 5 car-buying tips in today's seller's market

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.”

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