The Polestar Precept “is a vision of the company’s future vehicle aspirations,” according to the Volvo sub-brand, known for its handsome, all-electric sedans. The Precept will be on display at the Geneva International Motor Show next month. Eschewing talk of the usual metrics like mileage and acceleration used to measure and market EVs, Polestar’s focus with the Precept is sustainability. Though, like most concept vehicles and most talk of sustainability, there’s more conversation about the ends than the means.
New, sustainable materials — In its release about the Precept, Polestar enthuses about new materials like “flax-based composites for interior panels and seatbacks” that are half the weight and use 80 percent less plastic than conventional equivalents. The seat upholstery, meanwhile, is made of 3D-knitted yarn created from recycled plastic bottles and made precisely to size. Then there’s the recycled cork vinyl used in the headrests and bolsters, and the carpets are made from reclaimed fishing nets.
There’s less talk about how exactly these upcycled materials are sourced, though, the carbon footprint associated with getting them to Polestar’s facilities, or the providence of the enlarged battery packs the 3.1-meter (~10 foot) wheelbase enables. There’s also no mention of whether the recycled materials can themselves be recycled when the vehicle reaches end-of-life, despite an acknowledgment in the promotional video for the Precept that genuine sustainability is an end-to-end project.
Sure to turn heads — We understand that, as a concept, the Precept doesn’t need to worry itself too much with the details of its big ideas, and perhaps more details on just how sustainable it really is will emerge in Geneva. But one thing’s sure: it looks hot. The grille-less front houses an array of sensors in what Polestar calls the “SmartZone”, the one move that in its cold, literalness perhaps betrays its Swedish affiliation.
There are also on-board smarts that adjust the brightness of the center, 15-inch, touch-display (and the user interface on it) when the driver reaches for it to make it easier to read and navigate. Eye-tracking also tries to serve up appropriate, contextually sensitive controls and watches out for driver fatigue. Though there’s no talk of range, the teaser video includes a shot of the 12.5-inch digital dashboard in the Precept that shows 500km (310 miles) at 80 percent charge.
It runs Android Automotive — The Precept is also going to run Android Automotive, the full-blown vehicle-focused OS from Google. It’s like Android Auto, but baked right into the car rather than an interface between it and an Android smartphone. That means slicker navigation and entertainment app integration, which should mean no more fiddling with in-car navigation rather than Google Maps, better calendar integration (assuming you use Google Calendar), and the option to watch streaming video when the Precept is parked or charging.
Some features will show up in the Polestar 3 — In addition to the existing Polestar 1 and 2 vehicles it produces, the company is working on a fully-electric “performance SUV” called the Polestar 3. While some of the deeper Android integration is already available in the Polestar 2, we’re likely to get our first, real-world taste of some of the Precept’s innovations in the Polestar 3.
Each iteration of Polestar's vehicles gets more attractive, what it needs now is to ramp up production and availability. In the U.S., Tesla dominates the performance EV space and continues to expand its lineup, but competion gets fiercer by the day. GM's planning an electric Hummer, the first EV from Cadillac is due out in April, and Kia and Hyundai have their own electric vehicles in the works. Plus every German automaker worth mentioning is working on its own plug-in SUV. Polestar and Volvo's parent company Geely has deep pockets, but if it wants its electric moves to pay off people will actually need to be able to purchase its products.