Crashing a carbon fiber body is a whole new world compared to traditional steel bodies.
In preparations for the production launch of its first-ever model, Polestar is investing millions of dollars into assembly lines, production sites, and different evaluations. In fact, the verification prototype production of the Polestar 1 has already started and the company is now using the first assembled examples for crash tests.
This is the first time Volvo and Polestar are experimenting with a carbon fiber reinforced polymer body and researching it in real crash scenarios. In contrast to a standard steel body, carbon fiber dissipates energy by cracking and shattering, which requires a whole new level of engineering. Special attention is given to the way the material reacts to extreme forces during impacts.
With this new testing procedure, Polestar explains, the company wants to prepare its cars for the things that are not planned, such as accidents. It putts the verification prototype cars through crash tests at different speeds and various angles.
“It’s dramatic. It’s exhilarating. And it’s necessary.”
The most severe scenario simulated by Polestar is a frontal collision into a stationary barrier at 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour). In this case, most of the energy of the impact is absorbed by the car’s crash structure. The rest of the energy mitigates by the carbon fiber body panels into the body structure.
“We were really excited about this crash test. The first crash test of Polestar 1 has been about exploring the unknown. 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,” described the process Thomas Ingenlath, Chief Executive Officer at Polestar.
Crash tests with the new Polestar 1 will continue in the next weeks. The company is using the Volvo Cars Safety Center in Gothenburg, Sweden, where cars and other vehicles can be crash-tested in a large number of real-world simulations.