Composites for the win!

Carbon fiber is a wonderful material. Offering both high strength and low weight, carbon fiber combines two characteristics seemingly at odds with one another to form a very desirable end product, something which is particularly valuable in an automotive application. After all, cars need to be strong in a crash, but lightweight to cover performance and efficiency. As such, we see the big makes utilizing carbon fiber across multiple segments. Now, Polestar (Volvo’s performance offshoot brand) is putting the value of carbon fiber on full display with this official crash test video of its latest Polestar 1 performance coupe.


The Polestar 1 is currently in development, but while all the details have yet to surface, we do know the two-door will use a good deal of carbon fiber.

Specifically, the coupe includes an underlying steel body with a carbon fiber reinforced polymer body on top. It’s a unique configuration, and as such, Polestar wanted to know how it fared in a collision. Thus, we have the results in the above-featured video.

At two minutes in length, the video features the crash test prep, as well as the actual test, as viewed in slow motion from the flanks and from above.

The coupe goes headfirst into a wall at 56 km/h, or 34.8 mph, but the aftermath isn’t quite as bad as you might expect. A lot of this is down to the car’s construction.

“In contrast to a steel body where bending helps the integrated crumple zones to reduce the amount of crash energy that reaches the vehicle’s occupants, carbon fiber dissipates the energy by cracking and shattering,” the automaker explains in a press release.

Polestar 1 is the the brand’s first model since its launch as a standalone brand separate from Volvo in 2017. Polestar still uses Volvo vehicles, but offers them with a greater focus on overall performance. Even still, it looks like Volvo’s reputation for safety has carried over to the Polestar brand as well.

2018 Polestar 1
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In addition to a sexy carbon exterior inspired by the Volvo S90 sedan, the Polestar 1 offers a hybrid powertrain making upwards of 600 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. That’s a ton of muscle for any passenger car, but in addition to lots of speed, the 1 gets an all-electric range rated at 93 miles per charge.

Throw in an adaptive electric suspension system from Ohlins, and a luxurious interior carried over from the S90, plus the obviously high crash standards, and the Polestar 1 is looking like quite a tempting proposition.

Pricing, however, is not cheap, with outright ownership reaching the $150,000 mark.

However, Polestar is also offering the 1 on a “subscription” basis, although details on how this will work and how much it’ll cost remain elusive.

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. However, as Polestar’s “halo” offering, pricing is expected to be quite steep. We can’t wait to see what’s to come from the brand.

Further Reading

2018 Polestar 1
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2018 Polestar 1

Read our full review on the 2018 Polestar 1.

Polestar evaluates strength of carbon fibre in successful first crash test
Polestar has undertaken the first of a series of crash tests as part of the development of the Polestar 1. This represents the first time the Volvo Car Group has assessed the strength of a carbon fibre reinforced polymer body in a real crash situation.

“We were really excited about this crash test. The first crash test of Polestar 1 has been about exploring the unknown,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer at Polestar. “This was a crucial proof point in the development of Polestar 1; we had to know that the ideas and calculations that have gone into building this car were right – and they were.”

In contrast to a steel body where bending helps the integrated crumple zones to reduce the amount of crash energy that reaches the vehicle’s occupants, carbon fibre dissipates energy by cracking and shattering.

Close attention was given to the way the carbon fibre body reacted to the extreme forces involved in the impact. The engineers also focused on how the underlying steel body structure, and carbon fibre ‘dragonfly’ which strengthens it, managed the forces.

The Polestar 1 verification prototype, part of the first Polestar 1 build series, was propelled into a stationary barrier at 56 km/h, simulating a frontal collision.

Most of the energy was absorbed by the car’s crash structure, with the remaining energy mitigated by the carbon fibre body panels into the body structure which remained rigid and did not show signs of bending or misalignment after the crash.

Zef van der Putten, responsible for carbon fibre at Polestar, comments: “The outcome of this first crash test validates the decision to build the body of Polestar 1 in carbon fibre. It also confirms that carbon fibre supports the highest safety standards. This is an example of how Polestar spearheads the development of new technology in the Volvo Car Group.”

The crash test was conducted at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, where cars and other vehicles are crash-tested in a large number of real world simulations.

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