Polestar explains its Precept(s) in judicious detail – Part 1
Having aired his concerns about Volvo offshoot (Polestar), which professed to be as much of an automotive disrupter, if not more so, than Tesla, Iain Robertson has received highly detailed information on its latest concept car, which isn’t…
‘Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player’ was Elton John’s sixth studio album and could provide my personal theme tune, as I rip into numerous carmakers for their various and inglorious ‘works of art’. It is dangerous for a critic to have ‘friends’ in high places. I try to avoid it. Yet, despite having been an avowed fan of Volvo, I hear of recent dealings at UK franchise level that disappoint me greatly, as they do not seem to comply with the Sino-Swedish firm’s stated ethos.
Many of the issues relate to displays of arrogance and associated ignorance that are fast matching those of BMW dealerships and a noticeable slip in product quality standards is raising consumer hackles. On the face of it, as evinced by a succession of truly testing driving events, the latest Volvo models are exemplary…but, if you think that these cars are not especially fettled for motoring media purposes, think again.
Arrogance can make the guard drop and the last thing that Volvo needs is bad news surrounding one of its key UK personnel. Having known Mike Gale for more than twenty years, to discover only a few days into the Covid-19 lockdown that he had been made redundant, displayed an uncanny lack of judiciousness on Volvo’s part. He had played a major role, as the UK operation’s Head of PR, for redirecting opinions most successfully but he has been disposed of, almost when the company needs him most. Very foolish and myopic, Volvo!
A recent focal piece I wrote about Polestar, Volvo’s fast-developed EV/hybrid offshoot, questioned seriously its marketing. To call its dealerships ‘places’ is plain twaddle, let alone also pretending that desire levels will be at such a high level that it will not have to sell its products (the company needs to price its models more realistically!). This is triple-masted, ocean-going, naval-gazing nonsense. However, despite intense cynicism, the details of its Precept model, which it states categorically is NOT a concept car…but is a precept…do make fascinating reading, which I hope you will accept in précised form.
Its design is avant-garde but described as ‘near future’. I can accept that. Strong panel surfaces and the pursuit of aero-efficiency are essentials. The Precept highlights a non-retrospective stance on previous styling efforts, instead taking a more realistic and semi-tangible forwards view. Chasing more efficacious laminar airflow along the car’s flanks allows it to cleave through still air and enhance EV mileage potential.
- Air ducts in front of and behind the rear wheels contribute to brake cooling as well as wheelhouse depressurisation
- 0-inch diameter alloy wheels are forged, machined and feature aerodynamic inserts
- ‘Thor’s Hammer’ front lamp signature now split along the horizontal edge, an evolution of the signature in a more robotic, Polestar style
- SmartZones on either side of the car house additional driving assistance sensors
- Play between high-gloss and matt surfaces, within one colour, or switching between materials; a distinct lack of chrome
- Graphics are minimalistic
- LED side markers on the C-pillars indicate charging status
- Front splitter, side sills and rear valance in Bcomp natural composite (see below)
- Flush door handles and flush integration of the glazing remove air flow disturbances
- Slim waist and powerful hips; aerodynamic tapering of the cabin
- Doors open wide for easy access
- Rear legroom (for two) is given high priority, akin to that of larger luxury tourers, matched by expansive headroom and a panoramic view
- Rear signature features precise, geometric lighting with a soft, sculptural body shape
- Rear camera and side cameras feed digital interior mirrors
- Full width tail-lights with vertical air blades complete the aerodynamic design, allowing for cleaner air flow off the car’s trailing edges.
Sustainability is a key consideration for all carmakers. You may have noticed the little slivers of tangential advertising that Volvo funds on C4’s TV drama series; they are called ‘idents’. Some of them feature beach and riverside gatherings of waste plastic. While Volvo itself has played this out for publicity purposes, its Polestar division has also engaged the services of a leading European plastics repurposing company (Bcomp). It collects the millions of discarded PET bottles and waste nylon fishing nets to turn them into practical fibres for upholstery and in-car sound deadening purposes. It is an ingenious application of traditional weaving, combined with science. I really like this precept, as a dependable recycling loop is also created, which only improved human habits can enhance.
- Precept interior shows how high-tech, sustainable materials used together in the right combination can create a new luxury design language
- Vegan interior with high levels of recycled content, building on the vegan foundations presented by Polestar 2
- Polestar works together with Bcomp to integrate flax-based natural composite which has been used extensively to replace many virgin plastics
- Composite material reduces interior component weight by 50% with an 80% reduction in plastic use
- Proprietary powerRibs™ technology from Bcomp is inspired by leaf veins, offering rigidity with low weight
- Bcomp’s ampliTex™ composite material is strengthened by the powerRibs™ to create strong and rigid componentry which can reduce vibrations by up to 250% and perform better during an impact
- The seat covers are 3D-knitted from 100% recycled PET bottles in a single thread, made exactly to size with no waste, or off-cuts
- Recycled plastic bottles are also used for the 100% recycled headlining textile
- The ECONYL® carpets are woven from Nylon 6, recovered from reclaimed fishing nets
- Waste and recycled cork from the wine industry is converted into cork-based vinyl for seat bolsters and head rests
Needless to say, there is a typical over-abundance of trademarked product names, which is understandable, when so many processes are novel and partially funded by Volvo/Polestar. I shall not deny them the pleasure, as they will need a market lead. Of course, there is also a potentially high price attached to so many combined and brand-unique materials, which only mass-market applications may resolve.
Conclusion: I want to save my broader conclusions for Part 2 of this mini-series, in which I shall delve into the third pillar of Precept’s existence; digital technology.