Good Oil: Pole start for Polestar
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The news around flashy EV start-ups hasn’t been hugely positive. Especially if you’re Faraday Future, the Chinese-funded, Californian-based company that promised to revolutionise luxury EVs and beat Tesla at the game it invented.
Cue a cash crunch, several high-level resignations and now it would appear this buzz-word business has bitten the dust. That’s a pity, but then it ain’t easy starting a car company. If you’re Tesla, it ain’t easy keeping one going either, regardless of how much universal goodwill you generate.
What a breath of carbon emission free air it is, then, to see the news out of Polestar this week. The Chinese-owned Volvo offshoot has started building cars. Out of actual physical materials. On a proper assembly line. Okay, put the deposit cheque (or whatever you do these days) down for a second.
The cars being produced at this point aren’t destined for dealerships. They’re verification prototypes, hand-built to ensure every complex onboard system is working as it should.
But that Polestar has got to this point is promising. After the 34 test mules being assembled at Polestar’s Gothenburg prototyping facility in Sweden have been assessed, fine-tuned and — for some — crash tested, the real deal mass-production cars will begin rolling down the production line next year.
The first model (aptly named Polestar 1) will be a luxury all-wheel drive GT rival for the likes of the Bentley Continental GT. Except it will have a hybrid electric engine set-up that Polestar reckons will be good for a whopping 400kW.
Built on the same SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform as Volvo’s XC, S and V90 models, the Polestar will be a fair bit shorter than its closest comparative car, the S90 sedan. Polestar shrinks everything, cutting 320mm from the wheelbase and 200mm from the rear body. Remarkably, the Polestar 1 shares a similar footprint to a Porsche 911.
Oh, and when it comes time to swipe that credit card at your nearest Polestar dealer (which possibly won’t be anywhere near you here in New Zealand, at least not initially), you won’t actually own the car, either. At this stage the company is offering lease-only deals to interested parties.
The lease fee will include servicing and give you access to the wider Volvo range of vehicles too. So, if you feel like going skiing with the family and don’t want to use your Polestar, you can borrow an XC90 from your nearest dealership for the weekend. The hire fee is already covered in your Polestar lease.
Sorry Faraday. It looks like the future as you described it definitely lies somewhere else.
If your son has just been made a key team member in a new company, the last thing you’re probably going to want to do is badmouth that company. Although give Carlos Sainz snr a break: he only meant it in the most positive way possible when he said his son’s new team has hit “rock bottom”.
The rally great’s son, Carlos jnr, is making a move through the F1 midfield next season, from Renault to McLaren.
Sainz jnr has patiently bided his time at Renault this season while the French team continued to bed in newly developed tech. His season has been good but not great; he ended up 12th in the driver’s standings. But the more pertinent stat might be that Renault finished fourth in the 2018 F1 Constructors Championship. Sainz jnr’s new team, McLaren? Erm… sixth.
“I sincerely believe that there are capable people at McLaren,” Sainz told reporters.
“It is a team capable of reacting after a year where I want to think they hit rock bottom. There are people there who have said, ‘It was not the engine; we’ve done things wrong and it’s enough now. We’re going to start doing things right for next year’.
“Everyone thought that with the Renault engine, at least, [McLaren] would be ahead of the official Renault team, and it has not been that way,” he said.
So, yes. Here’s hoping for Junior — and the wider McLaren team — that in 2019 the only way is up.
Auto pilot extreme
A blur of high-density LED light at dusk is about all you can see in the video, but the sight of a Tesla Model S well and truly airborne after it accelerates over a railroad crossing is still dramatic in the extreme. Not least because the blur is caught from several CCVT security cameras.
The alarming part, though, is just how high off the ground the Tesla looks, with what appears to be a good metre at least of air underneath the body as it shoots through the frame.
Before you head to YouTube to seek the clip out (searching “Airborne Tesla” will probably bring it up), here’s the back story. The crash happened in the town of Barrie, Ontario on a stretch of road that, according to the local news website, acts as catnip to reckless drivers looking for a little rally action. Now watch the video and witness the people running down the road (out of frame) towards what we can only assume is where the Tesla came to rest. Given the local fury at repeated prangs on the road, we can’t help but wonder if they’re going to the driver’s assistance, or to give him a good thumping.
The 46-year old driver, by the way, was charged with dangerous driving, according to the local news site. He and his female passenger were treated for light injuries: probably could have been worse given the Tesla came to a stop nose-first over 30m down the road in the opposing lane.
What the driver was thinking would happen when he accelerated his low-slung, torque-heavy liftback over what appears to be a steep railway crossing is anyone’s guess. At least he’s still around to tell the tale ... or to curl into a foetal ball of regret whenever anyone mentions the word Tesla.