Volvo’s Polestar brand picks Montreal for first North American store

Europe

Polestar has chosen Groupe Park Avenue of Montreal as its first retail partner in the Americas region. The company also named Hugues Bissonnette as its Canadian manager.

Polestar is the electric vehicle startup brand from Volvo, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely.

Bissonnette, 45, a Quebec native, joins the team from Volvo Car Canada, where he was most recently the director of sales operations. He will spearhead all of Polestar’s commercial efforts in Canada, including the development of the brand’s retail environments, customer service initiatives and driving overall brand performance, according to the company.

“Hugues has the right skill set, developed over time working in both the Americas and Europe, and I am confident he will have great success launching Polestar in Canada,” Gregor Hembrough, head of Polestar in the Americas, said in a statement.

Bissonnette started his automotive career in 1997, and has since led multiple market launches in Canada and abroad. He spent time at Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he became a commercial project leader and, most recently, he led Volvo Canada’s sales operations, product planning and vehicle distribution. 

The agreement with Groupe Park Avenue paves the way for a Polestar launch in the Montreal market. The next steps include selection of the physical location for the Polestar Space — the company’s term for its dealerships — and a rampup of marketing efforts, which began this past week at Complexe Desjardins. 

Groupe Park Avenue operates 18 auto dealerships selling 12 brands, according to its website. It also operates one Harley-Davidson dealership.

Norman Hébert, CEO of Groupe Park Avenue, said in a statement that he hopes the addition of Polestar to its brand portfolio “will excite our customers and help accelerate the shift towards electrification.”

Sales of electric vehicles in Quebec were up 93 percent to 9,350 units in the second quarter when compared with 2018, according to Electric Mobility Canada, a national membership-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of EVs. The group said Quebec’s second-quarter EV sales were a quarterly sales record for a Canadian province. Third-quarter numbers aren’t available, yet.

Polestar Montreal will open in 2020, to be joined by Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, and a strategically-placed network of retailers in the United States. 

In September, Polestar chose Toronto to debut the Polestar 2, its newest electric vehicle. When the cars go on sale in June 2020, Polestar plans to have three Canadian outlets operating.

There will be small retail “spaces” in high-traffic downtown locations with room for two or three vehicles and three or four no-commission product specialists, with two or three demonstrators on hand nearby.

“We will always have a retail partner in the North American market place [who] will always be involved in the negotiations and transacting with the customer,” Hembrough said during an event in Toronto last month.

Dealers will carry no inventory. 

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