"I bet you've all driven Volvos and said they are safe, the interior is beautiful, the design is minimalistic, but I bet none of you have said that's the best car I've ever driven," Polestar chief operating officer Jonathan Goodman told Australian media at Polestar headquarters outside Gothenburg.
In something of a surprising start to a quick rundown on the next 18-24 months for Polestar, Goodman was keen to recognise the core brand strengths of Volvo, but also to point out Polestar can be something different for the Volvo brand globally.
"We want Polestar to be driver's cars, to be the best car you've ever driven and we have the benefit of a proven platform, but we can go to places Volvo can't necessarily go," Goodman said.
"We will always have elements of Volvo, and we're proud to be part of Volvo, but in many ways, Polestar is like a 90-year-old startup."
Goodman was explaining the positives of being an offshoot of a proven vehicle manufacturing company with a long history, but still behaving, acting and reacting with the swift enthusiasm of a start up.
Like many from the established brigade, Goodman recognises the strong points of brands like Tesla, but wants to tap into the deep manufacturing history and understanding that a brand like Volvo can call on.
"We have all the dynamism of a startup, but underneath that you have 90 years of technology and know how," Goodman said. "Our new factory in China for example was built on time, was up and running quickly, and it's already running though prototype production now.
"We have a massive advantage over other startups, who have to build everything from scratch."
The other, most visible advantage the likes of Volvo has is an established platform already in use with conventional internal combustion propulsion. Clever design and engineering nous can convert that to an electric platform with a minimum of fuss.
"We do have a proven platform and technology that works, and we also have technological know how and manufacturing understanding as well," Goodman said. "At Polestar, we want an environment that reflects what we are as a brand, and as such we’ll bring things to market in a different way."
Polestar will launch initially in nine markets with the two big players, China and the United States, up first. Australia will follow, despite being a relative minnow, toward the end of 2020.
"Production for the Polestar 1 starts in a few months," Goodman said. "It's a halo car though, only 500 per year will be built, and it won't be going to Australia. It's LHD only, but it is our launch car, a halo as I said, and we're very proud of it."
Australia is what Polestar considers a Phase 2 market. As such, we will start to see Polestar product some time after the Phase 1 markets get their first deliveries.
"That's right, the Phase 2 market is where Australia comes in," Goodman said. "It's an attractive market, and the back end of 2020 is when we will look to launch Polestar 2 in Australia. We are in the process of working on that, working out how we go about doing it, and bringing it to market in a different way."
The centrepiece of the sales process will be online purchasing – a move Polestar thinks can change the buying game, removing a step that can intimidate many buyers. In fact, the brand wants to revolutionise the buying and ownership experience, and Australia will be no different to other markets globally, despite the smaller volume.
"The purchase will be done online, so the customer orders online direct," Goodman explained. "We will work with certain Volvo dealers, to create a 'Polestar space'."
That space will be a 250 square metre environment within specified city dealers, rather than a 'cathedral' as Goodman described a traditional dealership – an environment that can potentially turn off or intimidate buyers.
"The spaces will be staffed by non-commission product experts," Goodman said. "There will be no inventory with the retailers, we want to break that chain, not put the pressure of inventory on them, and we want to put some transparency back in the process.
"Put some fun back into retail. It should be a great process buying the second most expensive thing you'll ever own, not stressful or antagonistic."
With a dealer network of 28 currently, expect Polestar to launch with two or three spaces in Australia – carefully selected and placed to change up the buying experience.
"We want the dealers to do business, and we must let them do their business," Goodman said. "But, we must be very clear on the standards and expectations we have."
While acknowledging dealers know how to sell cars better than manufacturers ever could, Goodman insisted the sales model must change, headed up by salespeople who are not driven by a commission.
That change in sales model will also extend to servicing, all part of what is likely to become the car subscription, rather than traditional ownership model.
Goodman is aware some customers will always prefer to own their vehicle, but much like many of us do with mobile phones, the new ownership model will include the ability to subscribe to a service where you can hand the car back after a period, with a guaranteed buy back scheme, and then move on to the new model.
"We will also operate pickup and delivery for servicing," Goodman said. "No customer loves having their car serviced, it's usually a lot of pain – a lot like going to the dentist. "We will call you, in fact we will have failed at our job if we haven't called you to let you know you have a service due."
Goodman asked us to imagine a scenario where our car is parked at work, a service representative turns up to collect it, unlocks it with a digital key via a smartphone for example, takes the car to the dealer for servicing, and then returns it back to your parking space at the end of the day.
"There won't even be a bill on the front seat," Goodman said. "You will already have paid for it, because everything is included."