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Premium buyers first to go electric: Polestar

A little nudge: Owners of premium vehicles are more likely to consider an electric car, so increasing state and territory incentive thresholds could get more of them over the line, according to Polestar.

Polestar Aus MD says higher EV incentive thresholds will attract more early adopters

29 Mar 2022

POLESTAR Australia says incentives offered to electric vehicle buyers do not go far enough in recognising the market demand for premium models, judging by demand for top-spec versions of the Polestar 2 against a backdrop of buyer tendency toward high-grade and performance models in this market.


Speaking to GoAuto in Melbourne this week, Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson said Polestar and other electric vehicle importers see a higher proportion of sales are to those coming from premium marques, and says current incentives do little to persuade such buyers away from petrol-powered models.


Believing early adopters are key to driving the broader acceptance of new-technology vehicles, Ms Johnson said that providing the right mix of “sausage and sizzle” is key to attracting buyers to the brand, and that such buyers should not be penalised for wanting to make a sustainable choice.


“If we really want to speed up the shift to electric mobility, to more sustainable mobility, then we really do need to have incentives that are focused not just at the entry-level brands, but also the kind of buyers who would usually opt for a premium car,” said Ms Johnson.


“We’re finding that it is those buyers who are currently moving over from petrol engine cars and into EVs, and if they are not willing to go from a premium petrol-powered car to a volume-brand EV (for that reason) we need the right kind of incentives to make the transition to electric mobility happen more quickly.”


Ms Johnson said that current incentives are unrealistic in serving to attract new buyers to electric vehicles as the cut-off for such schemes is set well below the current EV price median.


She said that she believes that the absence of a broader incentive scheme – one that recognises a mix of mainstream and premium marques as crucial to promoting change – means en masse electric vehicle uptake will be painfully slow.


“Having a lower level ‘stop’ on electric vehicle incentives just means it’s going to take longer (for a wider group of motorists to transition to electric vehicles), and we’re finding that we’re getting very strong demand for the range-topping variants,” she said.


“The flagship Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor is the best-selling variant, followed by the medium (spec variant) and then the entry model, which tells us there is very strong demand at the higher end of the model walk; and I don’t think that’s surprising given our per capita uptake of high grade and performance models here in Australia.


“And interestingly that seems to be a global trend, right now. When we talk to our global counterparts, they say the top (of the range) is where the sales are, and in some markets, they didn’t even introduce the lower spec variant for two years because they know that buyers really do want the performance, and they want the bells and whistles.”


Despite the lack of government incentives available to Polestar buyers, Ms Johnson said the brand was performing well, increasing sales forecasts to reflect strong demand.


She said escalating petrol prices and greater brand awareness were pushing brand sales “through the roof” but declined to divulge exact sales figures.


“I think there is that ‘awareness’ now, that there are EVs out there in the market, and I think the more EVs you get out there, the more likely people are to consider them an option. I think people are very well educated on the topic, that they understand the environmental benefits, and that they know an EV is more cost effective in the longer term – and that’s evident in the massive influx of interest and orders we’ve seen,” Ms Johnson told GoAuto.


“We’re really very pleased with how many people know about Polestar, and how many buyers tell us they’ve been following the development of the brand over the years. We’re also really pleased that they’re buying a Polestar not just because it’s a beautiful looking car, but because they want a car that is more sustainable, that really resonates with people, and we’ve been very active in talking about that.


“I (also) think people really gravitate to the fact that we are a pure electric vehicle brand, that that is what we stand for. The environmental part of what Polestar is, the ‘sausage’, buyers tell us that’s as important as the build, the safety, and the performance of the car. But they also like the ‘sizzle’, the little features that make ownership and driving a Polestar seamless: over-the-air updates, a terrific human-machine interface, the Pilot Pack and so on.”


Ms Johnson said that most Polestar 2 buyers opted for the $5000 Pilot Pack – which adds driver assistance and safety technologies including forward and reverse collision warning, rear cross-traffic warning, active blind-spot assist, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam control and self-dimming wing mirrors.


However, despite criticism that such technology is standard on many less expensive petrol and electric models, she maintained that it was important the vehicle remained available without option packages in order to remain relevant to buyers on a budget.


“There are a lot of people who do value the option packs and those additional features, but I think there are also those who can’t quite afford to step up to that level, and this arrangement allows those buyers to get in (to an EV) at that entry level,” said Ms Johnson.


“It allows them to benefit from the rebates offered and to avoid staying in a petrol (powered) car for a lot longer than they would otherwise have to.


“It’s about giving people choice, and it’s a global strategy. We’re not going to put all of those options on the car as standard and say ‘you must pay this really high price’. We’re saying you have the choice.”


Polestar also offers its Polestar 2 variant with an $8000 Performance Pack – comprising coloured seatbelts, painted brake calipers, cross-drilled brake rotors, and 20-inch wheels – and a $6000 Plus Pack which includes wireless charging, a 13-speaker stereo, heated steering wheel, electric seat adjustment, heated second-row seating, and a sunroof. Nappa leather upholstery ($6000), metallic paint ($1400) and 20-inch alloy wheels ($1400) are likewise available.


The Polestar 2 range is available now from $59,900 through to $69,900 plus on-road costs and options.

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