Volvo performance sub-brand Polestar is hard at work developing its flagship vehicle, the 600- horsepower hybrid luxury coupe known as Polestar 1. As reported in early October, the brand has built 34 prototype models to be used during on-the-road testing and crash safety assessment. As of Nov. 1, Polestar has drafted a release confirming that it has successfully completed its first crash test. This also marks the first time that Volvo Group has performed a crash test on a vehicle using a carbon fiber-constructed chassis.
According to Polestar, crashing a carbon fiber car presents extra challenges compared to traditional steel construction. Modern steel unibodies are made with integrated crumple zones that dissipate force in the event of a collision. Carbon reacts in a completely different way, instead of shattering on impact. To reduce this effect, the Polestar 1 combines carbon fiber with a sort of steel skeleton that makes up part of the chassis.
The crash test, a simulated frontal collision, was performed at the Volvo Cars Safety Center in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Polestar 1 prototype was propelled into a stationary wall at approximately 35 miles per hour. Polestar says, "Most of the energy was absorbed by the car’s crash structure, with the remaining energy mitigated by the carbon fiber body panels into the body structure which remained rigid and did not show signs of bending or misalignment after the crash."
"The outcome of this first crash test validates the decision to build the body of Polestar 1 in carbon fiber," said Volvo principal engineer Zef van der Putten after seeing the results. "It also confirms that carbon fiber supports the highest safety standards. This is an example of how Polestar spearheads the development of new technology in the Volvo Car Group."
The production version of Polestar 1 is set for a mid-2019 release and will be assembled at a specialized factory in Chengdu, China. Base pricing will start at $155,000.