“DUE TO HIGH DEMAND, WE ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR NEW ORDERS.”
That’s the message that potential Polestar 2 buyers greet on the company’s Australian website when they try to access the Volvo sub-brand car configurator. Under normal circumstances, this would be the first step towards placing an online order for the much-loved all-electric crossover.
EVs are in high demand these days, so automakers hitting the “sold out” chart almost immediately after a new EV launch isn’t exactly a rare occurrence – just ask. Hyundai (Ionic 5) and Kia (EV6). However, a complete supply depletion just three months after the local launch does not appear to be something Polestar Australia had planned for its Polestar 2.
“It is really important that we have secure volumes for our launch, and we are working very hard with our production and logistics teams to minimize any risk of insufficient supply compared to what we expected. At this stage, we do not We see no supply issues and everything is on track for the volumes we expect.”
Those were the words of Polestar Australia Managing Director Samantha Johnson when speaking at the local press conference ahead of the launch of the Polestar 2 in October last year. At the time, there was obviously no anticipation that the supply pipeline would be shut down so soon.
In fact, the general idea was that Polestar Australia would be able to maintain a healthy sales cadence without too much disruption. So what happened?
It would be easy to point the finger at semiconductor shortages and the disruption of European supply chains caused by the conflict in Ukraine – and it’s highly likely that one or both developments played a part in the drought in Polestar – however, there’s another factor at play here: a massive fleet deal with rental company Hertz that will suck up 65,000 Polestars over the next five years.
The agreement will allow Hertz to have the largest fleet of electric vehicle rental cars in North America, which will not only be available to business travelers and tourists, but also to ride-sharing operators. The fleet purchase is also a global deal and also encompasses Europe and Australia.
Currently, the only model mentioned as part of the deal is the Polestar 2 – which makes sense, as Polestar currently only offers this model for sale. However, the all-electric Polestar 3 SUV could also be acquired by Hertz as part of this deal (once it enters production in 2023).
Even for a mainstream brand, 65,000 cars would be a significant number to commit to a single fleet purchase. For newcomer Polestar, which sold only around 29,000 units last year and expected to double that figure in 2022, an order of this size will hog a sizable percentage of its production resources, even if it is spread over five years.
By 2025, Polestar hopes to increase its production capacity to support 290,000 vehicles per year. Right now, however, satisfying the Hertz deal is surely a heavy burden on Polestar’s assembly plants.
The first deliveries of Hertz Polestars will begin this quarter for Europe, with the US and Australian fleets activating in late 2022. Polestar does not specify exactly why the order book closed in Australia, but the timing of the announcement of Hertz suggests this could be a key factor.
If it’s any consolation, at least Australian Polestar buyers aren’t the only ones suffering – European Polestar 2 customers are also dealing with the same situation.
“Due to high demand, we have sold out of our current cars in Europe and Australia,” said Polestar Australia spokeswoman Laurissa Mirabelli.
“As a result, we will be closing the configurator for new configured orders in these markets for the time being. We are working to take new orders for configured cars and activate the configurator as soon as possible.
“When activated, the configurator will include Polestar 2 updates. Australian customers can still place orders for pre-configured cars.”
At this stage, no date is given for the reactivation of its car configurator by Polestar and the acceptance of new orders.