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At Volvo, innovation rhymes with composites

News International-French

24 Sep 2018

Practically all parts of the Polestar 1 upper body, including the doors, bonnet and boot lid, are made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) for maximum stiffness, torsional rigidity and lightness. This stiff and rigid body contributes to great handling with consistently precise characteristics.

Carbon fibre plays integral role in Polestar development

Carbon fibre plays integral role in Polestar development

Polestar, Volvo Car Group’s performance brand, revealed last October its future as a new stand-alone electric performance brand. Polestar confirmed the company’s first three models, a new purpose-built production facility in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, and a new customer-focused route to market with all-inclusive subscription-based services that will set a new industry benchmark for performance car buyers. Since then, more than 5,000 people have said they are interested in the chance to purchase the Polestar 1.

Polestar Engineered is Volvo Car Group’s performance arm. Founded by Polestar Racing, today known as Cyan Racing, it is the result of the desire of Polestar Racing’s engineers to explore how the technology behind the successes in racing could be applied to the performance of road-going Volvo cars, on all roads and conditions in everyday life.

Electric performance hybrid
The company’s first car, Polestar 1, will start production in mid-2019. As an electric performance hybrid, the car can travel up to 150km on pure electric power alone – the longest full electric range of any hybrid car on the market. In combination with its four-cylinder Volvo Drive-E engine, the Polestar 1 delivers 600hp and 1,000Nm of torque, placing the car firmly within the performance car segment.
Polestar will act as a technology spearhead for the Volvo Car Group, bringing new technology and performance attributes to market. At the same time, it will benefit from technological and engineering synergies within Volvo Cars and significant economies of scale as a result. These synergies will allow Polestar to accelerate the design, development and building of its electrified performance cars.

50% new and bespoke
The first car, named Polestar 1, will form a halo for the future Polestar brand. This two-door, 2+2 seater Grand Tourer Coupé has an “electric performance hybrid” drivetrain. Around 500 cars per year will be built.
Showcasing Polestar’s technology spearhead role, the Polestar 1 is based upon Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) but approximately 50% is new and bespoke, created by the company’s engineers.

The car measures 4.5m in length compared with the 5.15m of the S90. This involved removing 320mm from the wheelbase and another 200mm in the rear to create powerful, sporty proportions.

A CFRP body with optimal carbon fibre layout

A CFRP body with optimal carbon fibre layout

Carbon fibre body
What makes manufacturing the car challenging is that it will be Volvo’s first model with a carbon fibre body. This lightweight material, more commonly found in supercars, gives the car three significant advantages. Firstly, a substantial body weight reduction of 230kg. Secondly, a 45% increase in torsional stiffness, from 22Nmm-2 to 32Nmm-2. And finally, reducing the weight of the upper body panels lowers the centre of gravity for the Polestar 1 and results in better handling, performance and drivability on an open and flowing road. Polestar expects it will take time for the team to feel confident with the new process. It will be a rather slow start, but it is needed for this complex product.

Polestar 2 and Polestar 3 to follow
All future Polestar cars will feature a fully- electric powertrain. Polestar 2 will be the first battery electric vehicle (BEV) from the Volvo Car Group. This mid-sized car will join the competition around the Tesla Model 3. Polestar 2 is currently in the engineering phase and will start production before the end of 2019, delivering higher volumes than Polestar 1. Polestar 3 is in the finishing stages of design and will be a larger SUV-style BEV, creating a modern expression of electric performance and driving dynamics, and sitting between Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 in terms of volume and pricing. Most electric cars are fast – that’s a result of the attributes of an electric motor. However, for Polestar, performance is far more holistic than just straight-line speed. It is about acceleration, of course, but it is also about cornering, braking, suspension control, chassis feedback and steering feel. This is what Polestar calls “progressive performance”.

Polestar 1 prototype extreme winter test drive

Packed with innovation
Being part of the Volvo Car Group enables Polestar to design, develop and engineer cars using the processes of a well-established car company but at the same time, enables them to experiment with new technology in lower volume cars outside the mainstream segments.
Polestar focused on uncompromised car design and technology. Electricity and innovation drive their cars. Electromobility is the main focus of today’s automotive industry, and the company is at the centre of this development, introducing world-class electrified cars and innovative, customer-focused services and offers:

  • The Dragonfly: the use of carbon fibre dramatically influenced the design of the Polestar 1. The roof cross-sections are slim, light and stiff carbon fibre profiles enabling a low, elegant roof line and a beautiful design. Furthermore, a cleverly shaped patch of CFRP bonded to the steel underbody stiffens the traditionally weak interface between the middle floor and the rear structure. At Polestar, this component is known as the Dragonfly.
  • Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer: practically all parts of the Polestar 1 upper body, including the doors, bonnet and boot lid, are made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) for maximum stiffness, torsional rigidity and lightness. This stiff and rigid body contributes to great handling with consistently precise characteristics.
  • Active rear spoiler: the Polestar 1 has a standard-fitted active rear spoiler delivering high-speed downforce on the rear axle. It automatically raises from its integrated flush position when the speed exceeds 100km/h and is retracted when the speed is reduced below 70km/h.
  • Panoramic glass roof: Polestar 1 comes with a fixed panoramic glass roof, stretching all the way from the top of the windscreen to the upper edge of the rear window. A small delightful detail is projected onto the glass roof: The Polestar.
  • Interior design: the interior features hand-crafted leather detailing and a carbon fibre wing that stretches to the full height of the instrument panel. State-of-the-art tooling precision enables a high-class fit and finish.
  • Double wishbone front: the Polestar 1 has a double wishbone front suspension, connecting each wheel with two transverse links. This design enables the front suspension to counteract torque steer, delivering a neutral balance with a minimum of unwanted understeer. In addition to these benefits, most suspension parts are made of aluminium to reduce unsprung weight.
  • The rear suspension is an integral link design, a unique solution to the Polestar 1 – with a transverse composite leaf spring, replacing traditional coil springs. This design delivers neutrally-balanced cornering characteristics, minimum roll and low levels of noise, vibration and harshness.

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