Polestar 1 verification prototypes are now in production in Gothenburg, Sweden. They will be used for various tests and assessments before manufacturing the production version, a 600 horsepower hybrid vehicle with an electric-only range of 150 kilometers (or 93 miles). Sofia Björnesson, Commercial Project Leader for Polestar 1, recently answered some questions for CleanTechnica.
1. What is a verification prototype and why are you using them?
Verification prototypes (VP) are the first series cars that are built and the intention is to start the process of verifying vehicle functions and attributes, including tuning of powertrain and chassis as well as the assembly process. They will be followed by a series of other prototypes, and with each series, the quality of the product gets better and better to ensure that, by the time we start production in the middle of 2019, the Polestar 1 is as good as it can possibly be.
2. What exactly are you testing?
We will use the VP cars for crash tests, on-road evaluation and development of elements like ride quality, noise, vibration and harshness, and other weather-based tests in extreme hot and cold environments. All the tests are geared towards finalizing the engineering specification of various parameters and making sure that the final production version of the Polestar 1 is perfect.
3. How long does the testing last?
We are not able to disclose this information.
4. Will the Polestar have a completely carbon fiber body?
The Polestar 1 features a carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) body frame and panels, with the exception of the front and rear bumpers. Besides the body itself, the car also features a carbon fibre “dragonfly,” which is a four-sided strengthening element mounted on the floor of the car that increases chassis rigidity and thereby improves handling.
5. How strong will it be compared with steel, metal, or aluminum?
CFRP is about ten times stronger and five times lighter than steel, and the result is a 45% increase in torsional stiffness overall for the Polestar 1.
6. When is production expected for the Polestar?
Production starts in the middle of 2019.
7. At this time, do you know how many will be manufactured in the first production run?
We will build around 500 cars per year.
8. The prototypes are being built mostly by hand, why is that?
This is not unusual with verification prototype builds, because at the same time as building the car, we are designing and refining the construction processes that will be carried through to the final production of the car. The early stages of this are therefore quite labour-intensive processes.
In addition, working with the carbon fibre body is more complex than a comparable steel body. But, carbon fibre also enables more intricate design possibilities, which means we have been able to integrate design features and techniques that would be impossible (or perhaps possible but too expensive) to achieve with a steel body.
Carbon fibre allows us to realise some very complicated shapes — for example, the beautiful clamshell bonnet, which wraps around the entire front of the car and that features no unsightly shut lines. This shape would be impossible to create in a steel press, but carbon fibre allows us to achieve it. This sort of item then also becomes very difficult and time-consuming to fit using a fully automated process, and so construction by hand is one of the main methods used in building the Polestar 1.
9. Is prototype verification a typical process in auto manufacturing, or is it unique to your approach?
Prototype cars are common across the motor industry, so this is not unique to Polestar. However, we may have different tests and principles compared to other carmakers.
10. What will be some key lessons you learn from the verification prototype assessments?
The results of the various tests and evaluations that the VP cars will undertake will allow us to ensure that our final specifications and parameters for production cars will be perfect. This means we will deliver the best possible cars to customers.
Image by Polestar
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