This weekend, electric car brand Polestar opens its first Spaces in the Benelux. 'Spaces' are not simply stores: buying a car is impossible, rather they are inspirational places with a digital focus.
Look offline, buy online
No agony of choice in the Polestar Space in Brussels: just three models are on display. The brand aims to inspire rather than sell in its new location, due to open this Saturday: everyone can walk in with their questions about sustainable mobility. The market for electric cars is not yet fully developed, the company thinks.
The showroom therefore does not have salespeople walking around, but rather specialists without sales targets or the need to earn commissions. All parts of the car are on display: rims, suspension, engines, the framework... Visitors can discover and personalise the cars at an interactive workshop table. They can experience driving the car using virtual reality, but a real test drive is also possible. The actual purchase is then done quietly from home, by smartphone. At Polestar, 'digital first' is the norm.
Although the major car groups Volvo and Geely are behind Polestar, the brand follows its own distinct course as an independent entity. "We are a startup with ninety years of experience", director Lies Eeckman of Polestar Belgium smiles. She believes that an innovative brand cannot be credibly marketed through traditional car dealers - although they do invest in it and they will also provide after-sales service.
Polestar opts for atypical, accessible locations in city centres or shopping centres: the first Spaces in the Benelux open in Brussels (Belgium) and three Dutch cities: Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Leidschendam. Later on, Antwerp (8 August), Ghent (mid-September), Amsterdam and Liège will follow suit. With those flagship locations, the market should be covered: after all, the focus is on digital.
"The car sector is stuck"
"Compared to a traditional car dealer, we do everything differently", Eeckman confirms. "We put customer experience first and remove every possible barrier. Consumer behaviour has fundamentally changed: look at the rapid adoption of m-commerce after the corona outbreak. But the car industry is stuck. That is what you have when engineers are at the wheel: they start from what they can make, not from what the consumer wants. We are going to give the car sector a new face."
Eeckman likes a challenge: she gained experience in marketing positions at Nestlé, Belgian brewery group Alken-Maes and Continental Foods, before moving to BMW two years ago. "People said I was crazy, but I am fascinated by transformation processes and the car industry really needs it. At Polestar it all comes together nicely: it is a very disruptive and open company that challenges the status quo in the sector."