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Did Hertz deal put the brakes on Polestar sales?

You can’t order a new Polestar 2 right now, and a huge fleet buy is probably why

8 Apr 2022

“DUE to high demand we are currently closed for new orders”. 


That’s the message that greets prospective Polestar 2 buyers on the company’s Australian website when they attempt to enter the Volvo sub-brand’s car configurator. Under normal circumstances, it would be the first step towards placing an online order for the highly regarded all-electric crossover. 


Electric vehicles are hot property these days, so car companies putting up the “sold out” board almost immediately after a new EV’s launch isn’t exactly an uncommon occurrence – just ask Hyundai (Ionic 5) and Kia (EV6). However, a complete exhaustion of supply just three months after local launch doesn’t appear to be something Polestar Australia had anticipated for its Polestar 2.


“It’s really important that we do have volumes secured for our launch, and we’re working very hard with our production and our logistics teams to minimise any risks of supply being short of what we’d expect. At this stage we don’t see any supply issues and everything is on track for the volumes that we are planning.”


Those were the words of Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson when she spoke at the local media briefing ahead of the Polestar 2’s launch in October last year. At the time, there was evidently no anticipation that the supply pipeline would be crimped shut so soon. 


In fact, the general notion was that Polestar Australia would be able to sustain a healthy cadence of sales without much interruption. So, what happened?


It would be easy to point the finger at semiconductor shortages and the Ukraine conflict’s disruption of European supply chains – and it’s highly likely that one or both developments have played some part in the Polestar drought – 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 deal will see Hertz boast the largest fleet of EV rental cars in North America, which won’t just be available for business travellers and tourists, but also available to rideshare operators. The fleet buy is a global deal too, and encompasses Europe and Australia as well. 


Right now, the only model that’s mentioned as part of the deal is the Polestar 2 – which makes sense, as Polestar presently only offers that model for sale. However, the Polestar 3 all-electric SUV could also be acquired by Hertz as a part of this deal (once it enters production sometime in 2023).


Even for a mainstream brand, 65,000 cars would be a sizable number to commit to a single fleet purchase. For newcomer Polestar, which only sold around 29,000 units last year and was expecting to double that figure in 2022, an order of that size will tie up a sizable percentage of its production resources, even if spread out over five years.


By 2025, Polestar hopes to scale up its production capacity to sustain 290,000 vehicles a year. Right now, though, satisfying the Hertz deal is surely a hefty burden for Polestar’s assembly plants.


The first deliveries of Hertz Polestars will start this quarter for Europe, with the USA and Australian fleets activating in late 2022. Polestar isn’t specifying exactly why the order book has closed in Australia, but the timing of Hertz’s announcement suggests it may be a key factor. 


If it’s any consolation, at least Australian Polestar shoppers aren’t the only ones that are suffering – European Polestar 2 customers also have to deal with the same situation.


“Due to high demand, we have sold out of current cars in Europe and Australia,” said Polestar Australia spokesperson Laurissa Mirabelli.


“As a result, we will close the configurator for new configured orders in these markets for the time being. We are working to take in new configured car orders and enable the configurator as soon as we can. 


“When enabled, the configurator will include updates to the Polestar 2. Australian customers can still place orders for pre-configured cars.”


At this stage, there is no date given for when Polestar will reactivate its car configurator and begin accepting new orders. 

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