During February in the lead up to the subsequently cancelled 2020 Geneva International Motor Show, Polestar began a slow drip of information on its vision of the company’s future vehicle aspirations with the Precept fully electric four-door grand tourer. The “clear expression of intent” showcases future design, digital user interface, and sustainability goals of the electrified Volvo spinoff brand.
“Precept is a declaration, a vision of what Polestar stands for and what makes the brand relevant,” commented Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar. “This is not a dream of a distant future, Polestar Precept previews future vehicles and shows how we will apply innovation to minimize our environmental impact.”
Aero and tech body design
The vehicle’s design and proportions focus on aerodynamic efficiency and a long 3.1-m (10.2-ft) wheelbase to accommodate a large battery pack and generous rear leg and head room. Batteries are placed beneath the floor but, as in the soon-to-be-released Polestar 2, are designed not to intrude into the rear passenger foot wells. In general, rear accommodations were given high priority, with abundant rear legroom matched by expansive headroom and a panoramic view upward and to the sides.
The front grille is replaced by the Polestar SmartZone, which houses sensor technology for driver-assistance functions. Behind the transparent panel are two radar sensors and a high-definition camera. Above it an integrated front wing accelerates airflow and allows air to attach to the long hood surface earlier for improved aerodynamic efficiency and, thus, vehicle range. A LiDAR pod is mounted atop the glass roof for optimal sensing. Additional SmartZones on either side of the car house additional driving-assistance sensors. At the rear, a light-blade spans the entire width of the car and extends into vertical aero wings.
Those rear lights are part of an overall focus on unique design elements. The Thor’s hammer front light signature is now split along the horizontal edge, an evolution of the signature in a “more robotic, Polestar style.” Welcome and farewell light sequences are inspired by astronomical events, starting in a burst of light from the center of the car which radiates outward. LED side markers on the C-pillars indicate charging status.
Conventional side mirrors are replaced by cameras on aerodynamic arms. The traditional rearview mirror is replaced with a digital screen, the image collected by a rear-mounted wide-angle camera. This is necessary due to the absence of a conventional rear window, which allows for the traditional rear roof beam to be moved further rearward for an extended, single-volume glass roof and better head room—as well as a larger, deeper tailgate opening with a roof-mounted hinge.
There was a big focus on body aerodynamics to maximize electric range. That begins with a slim waist and powerful hips, with an aerodynamic tapering of the cabin. Flush door handles, as well as flush integration of the glasshouse, are aimed at removing airflow disturbances. Air ducts behind the front wheels allow air to exit the wheelhouses and contribute to a more laminar flow around the side of the car. Air ducts in front of and behind the rear wheels contribute to brake cooling as well as wheelhouse depressurization. The 22-in forged and machined performance wheels feature aerodynamic inserts.
Focus on sustainable materials
Precept’s interior is defined by partnerships on sustainability, with a focus on new materials and processes, and on HMI, which builds on current partnerships to maximize integration of expertise.
Following on from the vegan interior featured in the Polestar 2, Polestar is working to identify its next steps toward full-circle sustainability for its vehicles by working with specialists aimed at reducing weight, cutting plastic content, and lessening waste material with innovative natural and recycled source materials.
One example of this is use of Bcomp technologies for turning natural fibers into lightweight and safety-conscious interior panels. Its powerRibs technology is inspired by leaf veins, delivering both rigidity and low weight, and 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 composites use flax, which differ from many bio-materials as they are both ideal for use in crop rotation programs and do not directly compete with food crops. Bcomp’s flax-based composites for interior panels and seatbacks offer significant improvements over conventional materials, including up to 50% saving in weight and up to 80% reduction of plastic waste.
A material from the fashion and active footwear industries is used for seating surfaces to reduce waste and promote recycled material sources. The base material is 100% recycled yarn derived from PET bottles, and waste is minimized in the production process by making the component exactly to size, with no off-cuts.
The wine and fishing industries contribute to the quest for full-circle sustainability. Waste material from the cork manufacturing process, and whole bottle stoppers, are integrated into PVC interior components. Recycled Nylon 6, derived from discarded fishing nets and turned into woven carpets, is gathered through an international collection network to infinitely regenerate the material and accept returned end-of-life products from customers and consumers.
Polestar says that these elements, combined with digital artistry, define a new premium luxury that surpasses the conventions of leather, wood, and chrome.
“Importantly, we don’t need to sacrifice design and luxury with these materials,” said Maximilian Missoni, head of Design at Polestar. “If anything, they enable an even more premium, cutting-edge execution which elevates our design-led products.”
HMI powered by Android
The next-generation HMI (human-machine interface), powered by Android, builds on Polestar’s collaboration with Google with information displayed on an enlarged, portrait-oriented 15-in center touchscreen and a 12.5-in driver display. The instrument panel hosts an array of smart sensors to support personalization and a dynamic digital interface. While Polestar 2 is the first vehicle on the market powered by Android with the Google Assistant, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store, the Precept looks even further into the future.
“We already showed the world we take digital integration in our cars seriously and are open to collaborate with experts in these fields,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO. “Building on the Android infotainment system in Polestar 2, our future systems will make life in our cars easier, safer and more fun.”
Polestar will use an Android platform to build a more personalized and contextualized experience beyond the already available adjustment of mirrors, seats, climate, and entertainment settings to the driver’s personal preferences. The vision imagines the complete vehicle environment automatically adjusting to the user’s personal preferences and last-used applications. Tailored information will be displayed based on the detected driver profile, enabled by the Polestar Digital Key, when the driver approaches. With driver permission, the system could proactively offer personalized planning according to driver habits, preferences, and conditions.
Building on the Google Assistant functionality of the Polestar 2, delivered in a natural conversational flow that improves over time rather than from a list of pre-set options, Polestar says the tech will be an even more helpful co-pilot while driving, using advanced speech technology to expand to more languages, understand local accents, and provide more personalized experiences.
Avoiding information overload is a key focus of Polestar’s minimalist approach. Advanced eye-tracking and proximity sensors are used to deliver information in a controlled manner. Screens will alter their brightness and content based on conditions and driver reactions. Dimmed displays will increase intensity when users glance in their direction, and the approach of a user’s hand will adapt the presented controls. The system will also warn users if they are spending too much time looking at the screen rather than the road ahead.