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Polestar’s legacy-free design a selling point

‘Free from legacy’ design enables Polestar’s unique SUVs – including no rear window

20 May 2024


POLESTAR says that the ability to design vehicles without the legacy restrictions of a parent company is allowing it to offer more innovative and expressive vehicle designs – differentiating it from the sameness of the modern prestige segment. 
In introducing its production-ready Polestar 3 and 4 SUVs to Australian media in Spain this month, the Scandinavian brand detailed how the “freedom to innovate” was one of its strongest selling points; one it says is already well received by customers across the globe. 
Despite the use of shared platforms throughout its range, the all-electric brand says it is otherwise allowed carte blanche in furnishing designs as it sees fit; the vehicles crafted under the watchful eye of former Volvo Cars chief designer turned Polestar design head, Maximilian Missoni. 
“There is a purity with Polestar – this is a blank canvas for us and has been since we became a standalone manufacturer,” detailed Polestar head of product communications Brett Ellis. 
“That means we’re able to create cars that we want to create, that we want to present in the market in a unique and different way. 
“We are free from legacy. We are really designing our own path forward; and being that design-led Scandinavian brand we are able to bring that Scandinavian minimalism in right from the top … to bring cars that are really quite different and special.” 
Mr Ellis said that the formula was one that had already attracted devotees, with early adopters attracted not only to the vehicles’ environmental credentials and technology, but since the Polestar 2 “made a great first impression” it is increasingly design that sets the brand apart. 
“Now, (with Polestar 3 and 4) we move into higher segments, more into luxury, more into premium segments with our forthcoming cars. We are an innovator in design, technology, and sustainability, and we will bring these elements into various forms of car design.” 
One of the key design moves in the Polestar 4 is the unusual decision to remove the vehicle’s rear window. 
It’s a decision that many in the industry have questioned, but one Polestar’s head of design says brings benefits in accommodation – including a larger ceiling window – and aesthetics, while retaining the necessary safety considerations the arrangement appears to challenge. 
“Some years ago, when we worked on our concept car, the Precept, we realised that the technology that is now available to us is at a point where it really is good enough to replace the rear window and allow us to tap into all the benefits that can come with it,” Mr Missoni told GoAuto. 
“Normally, what you face when designing a coupe, is really compromised rear-seat headroom. 
“That is because you’re forced to keep the header structure above the passengers’ head to allow your physical mirror to look through (to the rear window) while also balancing space and aerodynamic considerations. 
“As a result, many of the cars in this segment have a funny ‘hunchback’ look. We didn’t want this. 
“We realised that if you were to replace the mirror with a rear-view camera you simply don’t need a daylight opening at the rear anymore, and you can move the whole structure rearwards, behind the occupants’ heads. 
“What we have ended up with then is a very fast silhouette that also allows quite nice headroom above the passengers, and with the camera, you also get a much wider field of view that is not disrupted by having passengers in the rear seat,” he added. 
Mr Missoni described how regulatory approval was obtained across the many markets in which it was sold, the Polestar 4 drawing closer comparisons with vans and trucks than typical cars and SUVs in securing its approval. 
Across all 27 markets in which Polestar sells, not one questioned the manufacturer’s decision to offer a digital rear-view mirror in place of traditional glass, suggesting that the acceptance of such technology is moving ahead at a rate of knots. 
“When we began checking, we thought ‘let’s see how many markets with pushback’ or if there are any that are not OK with it,” he continued. 
“What we found out was that because there were already vehicles – such as lorries and some supercars – that already are using the technology, that there is no market that would not allow a camera in place of a rear window.” 
Developed by Gentex Corporation, the rear-view camera system utilised in the Polestar 4 captures video from a 2.5-megapixel camera set in the centre of the vehicle’s roof, the image displayed on an 8.9-inch LCD monitor set within the traditional rear-view mirror. 
Polestar says that the technology is quickly acclimated to by drivers, with most surveyed (82 per cent) saying it took “just days” to adapt from traditional reflective glass. 
Importantly, the sculpture of the vehicle allowed aerodynamic improvements that would otherwise have not been possible. 
Mr Missoni detailed how air flow over the vehicle was greatly improved by allowing the shape of the tailgate to disperse air more rapidly from the vehicle’s roofline, reducing drag and turbulence – while also serving to keep the rear-vision camera free of moisture and debris. 
“For airflow, it is very important that the laminar flow does not release from the body too early. We need to keep it attached until all the way to the back. In that way the coupe is not just about looks,” he explained. 
“I am also very happy that the camera ended up. It’s positioned in such a way that it is still within the laminar flow, which means that it doesn’t get dirty.  
Mr Missoni said that given the obvious benefits obtained in accommodation, packaging, aerodynamic performance, and structural integrity it was likely other SUV manufacturers would seek to mimic Polestar in removing the rear window from their own future designs – as Polestar would in its own. 
“It’s safe to say we will use the technology again in the Polestar 5, because it is also based on the Precept concept, and we would like to stay as true as possible to that concept for the Polestar 5,” he added. 
“I also think that we have been able to kick off a trend, and that because technology has also reached this level, I think, I hope, that others will feel confident to follow what we have done. The technology is clearly good enough – so there is no reason not to.” 

Visit GoAuto again soon for our international launch review of the Polestar 3 and 4 range from Spain.

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