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car design thread

Discussion in 'Creative Arts' started by jm2, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Interesting how Volvo took a showcar, formed a new division (Polestar) and put the concept car into production.
    That doesn't happen very often.
    And then, they made the Chief Designer CEO of the new company. :eek:
    What will they think of next.
    The coupe does indeed prove the power of design.

    In today's WSJ.

    Polestar 1: The World’s Most Beautiful Hybrid Car Has Arrived
    Car companies routinely sacrifice good design at the altar of cost. But Polestar’s CEO wasn’t willing to do so when creating this powerful, fuel-efficient, handsomely designed (if expensive) PHEV.


    WHEN MOST people look at the 2021 Polestar 1, they see only the gorgeous: a low-slung, wide-bodied 2+2 coupe, with immaculate lines and wheels for days, like a Shelby Mustang with a doctorate from the University of Gothenburg. I drove our snow-white tester to the local Cars and Coffee auto meet and dudes were practically throwing their underwear at it.

    I see rank having its privileges.

    In 2017 Volvo Cars put Thomas Ingenlath in charge of the newly minted Polestar premium-performance electric brand, a joint-venture between Volvo and corporate parent Zhejiang Geely Holding. Mr. Ingenlath, previously Volvo’s head of design, had never run a car company. But he had overseen the creation of the marvelous, masculine Volvo Concept Coupe (2013) that previewed the Polestar 1 in most respects, including its exotic carbon-composite body.

    As a driving machine the Polestar 1 offers the same rarefied, gizmotronic feel as BMW’s i8 PHEV, only quicker.

    The Concept also summoned the spirit of Volvo’s most beautiful car, the P1800 (1961-1972): the dramatic cab-rearward balance and intimate canopy; the peaked rear fender lines and almost vestigial tail fins; the teeth-baring grille. I was at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013 when the Concept debuted. It was a hit.


    This is where most car companies, and most CEOs, would have left the Coupe: as a show car, a brand avatar, exaggerated and unbuildable, with no shot at a business case. Imagine the GM board meeting at which Mary Barra proposes productionizing a carbon-bodied plug-in hybrid (PHEV) grand touring coupe, built by the handful in China, weighing 2.5 tons, costing twice that of an AMG E 53 Coupe. Security!

    Luckily, when it came to greenlighting Polestar 1 ($155,000), Mr. Ingenlath had no one to convince but himself.

    HOT WHEEL Via the rolling switch in the Polestar 1’s console, drivers can select five modes: Pure, Hybrid, AWD, Power and Individual.
    PHOTO: POLESTAR
    In an interview last month I asked Polestar’s CEO if he might have been guilty of self dealing in getting his baby into production. “No, it didn’t work like that,” he said, laughing at what has become a familiar question. “It was always part of the strategy” to produce Polestar 1 as a “halo car.” Uh-huh. The brand has big plans in the U.S., including taking on Tesla with its four-door Polestar 2. However, all future models will be battery-electric. The 1 will be Polestar’s first, last and only PHEV. It isn’t very halo-y in that respect.

    Production will be held to 500 per year (150 allotted to the North American market) and a total run of 1,500 copies. I guess they couldn’t afford to build more.

    Crammed under the carbonized hood is a 2.0-liter super/turbocharged four, spooling up to a fervid 6,000 rpm and 325 hp all on its own. Behind that, power-flow wise, is an integrated starter generator tasked with stop-start cycling, torque-fill and regenerative braking. The ISG kicks in another 71 hp and 119 lb-ft, as needed. Electrons are stored in 34 kWh worth of lithium-ion batteries, in boxy packs shoehorned into the central tunnel and between the rear shock towers.

    Finally, arrayed between the rear wheels, are two traction motors (232 hp combined) that, working independently, provide full torque vectoring across the rear axle. The combined system max is given as 619 hp and a ferocious 738 lb-ft, all set on a millisecond trigger.

    These mechatronics generate impressive, previously irreconcilable numbers: 0-60 mph acceleration in about four seconds and quarter-mile times in the high 11 seconds; an EPA-rated 52 miles all-electric range and 106 mpg-e average efficiency. Drivers can select, by way of roller switch in the console, five levels of enlightenment, including Pure (electric, engaging only the rear wheels, up to 99 mph), Hybrid (the fronts), AWD, Power and Individual.


    SIT BACK AND ENJOY Along with leather detailing and handcrafted upholstery, the Polestar 1’s interior features a premium Bowers & Wilkins sound system.
    PHOTO: POLESTAR
    As a driving machine the 1 presents the same sort of rarefied, gizmotronic feel of BMW’s i8 PHEV, only quicker and harder. Check out these A-list suppliers: brakes by Akebono, including spectacular 15.7-inch front rotors with six-piston calipers; custom-spec Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires; manually adjustable Öhlins coil-over dampers in amid the front double-wishbone and rear integral-link suspension. Type-A owners can dial in damping rates in the garage between Zoom meetings.

    That brings us to the matter of curb weight—5,170 pounds—and the 1’s strange albeit satisfying roadholding in beast mode. Ironically, for as heavy as it is, the 1’s design engineers lavished money on weight-savings. The assembly process marries a rigid carbon-composite upper structure and body panels with SPA’s steely underpinnings—a bit like what Lotus used to do with fiberglass. These carbon components cut about 500 pounds compared to conventional construction, says Polestar, and significantly lower the car’s center of gravity.

    So, yes, while the 1 weighs like a tugboat, much of that mass is slung deep and square in the midst of four insanely grippy tires. The Öhlins do a heroic job damping body motions over pumping asphalt. And in a high-speed, constant radius turn? Oh man, the levels of lateral grip and centrifugal force are quite ridiculous, like a gorilla swinging on playground equipment.


    But I don’t want to lose sight of what’s important: The 1 could have a small-block V8 and solid rear axle. I’d be just as smitten. Maybe more.

    To be sure, Mr. Ingenlath was obliged to make compromises. The 1’s interior is a direct lift from top-spec Volvos, including the Sensus infotainment beast. He probably would’ve preferred a brand-specific interior. And he surely didn’t want to crowd the trunk with batteries, cutting luggage space to a mere 4.4 cubic feet. But he wasn’t about to move that shoulder line, was he?

    However the ROI adds up and in whatever coinage—Swedish krona, Instagram love—the Polestar 1’s value rests in it being a truly, historically beautiful car, in a regime where most auto makers are lucky to achieve pretty. Its outlier pulchritude tells us something important about the business of volume-production car building: Beauty costs money. On the way to market, great design has to be defended against a thousand reasonable arguments, best practices and bottom lines.

    Every car is a battlefield. Usually the bean-counters win. Not this time.


    2021 Polestar 1
    PHOTO: POLESTAR
    Price, as Tested $155,000

    Powertrain PHEV, 2.0-liter super- and turbocharged inline four cylinder gas engine with direct injection and cylinder deactivation (325 hp at 6,000 rpm): starter-generator (71 hp) with eight-speed automatic transmission; 34 kWh lithium-ion battery packs; dual rear independent AC motors (116 hp) with mechanical torque vectoring

    Max System Power/Torque 619 hp/738 lb-ft

    Length/Width/Height/Wheelbase 180.5/77.1/53.2/107.9 inches

    Curb Weight 5,170 pounds

    0-60 mph 4 seconds

    Electric Range 58 miles

    Charging Time Less than 1 hour at 50 kW

    EPA Fuel Economy 106 mpg-e

    Write to Dan Neil at Dan.Neil@wsj.com

    The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

    MORE IN GEAR & GADGETS

    Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

    Appeared in the October 17, 2020, print edition as 'Polestar 1: The World’s Most Beautiful Hybrid Has Arrived.'


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  3. energy88

    energy88 F1 World Champ
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    Reminds me of an Audi.
     
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  4. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
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    Gorgeous and distinctive
     
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  5. 330 4HL

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    "And then, they made the Chief Designer CEO of the new company."

    I watch the Chinese market with a fair amount of personal interest as I lived and worked in Kunming for two years, and it strikes me that they are experiencing much the same sort of booming growth in makes and shakeout as the U.S. experienced at the beginning of the 20th century.

    I wonder who will emerge from this period as their Bill Durant?
     
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  6. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    I have many friends and acquaintances that have moved to China to design cars for Chinese companies.
    You are correct, it's just like the early days in the US industry. There will ultimately be a large 'shakeout'.
    The big difference however is the Communist government and their input into all things.
     
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  8. 330 4HL

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    So you see Xi Jinping as Bill Durant?:eek:
     
  9. NeuroBeaker

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    Are they nervous about working over there? Will they have job security and get proper credit for their work?

    All the best,
    Andrew.
     
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  10. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Mixed bag. Some want to stay there for good. Others are using it as a career stepping stone.
    They are getting paid well. Proper credit for their contributions? We'll have to wait and see.
    At any moment the Government can tell all the 'outsiders' to leave and go home. And that includes major corporations like VW/Audi, MB, GM, etc.
    Personally, I wouldn't want to live/work there for any number of reasons. The company I'm on the board of is a Chinese/American startup. Everything has come to a grinding halt. The Virus is creating all kinds of issues there.
     
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  11. 330 4HL

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    I don't want to drag this into a political forum, but I completely agree with your implied assessment. I had been to China numerous times prior to moving there in 1997, shortly before the passing of Deng Xiaoping. The period under his leadership and following on after his death were remarkably open and creative. Always lots of impediments and problems to overcome of course, and the army was always a potential "partner" if there was any real profit to be made, but all in all, it was an exciting time to be there and see the changes in a post "cultural revolution" China.
    A longer term view of the country's history would suggest that the rise of a leader such as Xi Jinping should not have been a surprise, and unfortunately it's not a place to which I would care to return.
    As you say, lots of reasons.
     
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  13. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    The Automotive Design World Needs to Wake Up!
    The designers in charge of shaping the vehicles of the future are trapped in a gilded cage.


    https://medium.com/illumination-curated/the-automotive-design-world-needs-to-wake-up-1cb3a75f3977



    over the last 10 years, we have witnessed a huge shift in how we perceive personal mobility. The idea of a car being a way to get from point A to point B is no longer the case and companies have failed to respond in a way that resonates with its customer base. This has trapped many automotive designers in a tug of war between staying true to company ideals and trying to integrate emerging technology into their designs.

    Getting My Feet Wet
    Myfirst job as a professional automotive designer took me to Germany where I learned what it took to design and build a vehicle. As a design team, we had endless discussions regarding how a car “sat on its wheels”, vehicle proportions, the volume of shapes and surfaces, and brand identity. Legacy car companies pour countless hours and money figuring out how far they can push the needle forward while still being brand recognizable. And there’s the rub. Car brands struggle to evolve because they are shackled to their past.

    Whether it was internal company design reviews or hosting focus groups around the world, one thing seldomly mentioned was the idea of vertical integration. Designers were never involved or informed of this process until the very end (in some cases). Very few people knew about it and not many talked about it. It felt more like an afterthought.

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    Personal rendering inspired by classic Italian sports cars.
    Striving for 21st Century Results with a 20th Century Approach
    How automotive designers are utilized in most automotive companies can be traced back to the 20th century when designers were called “stylists”. These were the days when designers shaped wings onto the rear fenders of cars or modeled rocket-like tail lights during the Space Age of the 1940s and 1950s. As time went on, there came an understanding that engineering and design needed to work together to solve more complex manufacturing and safety issues in a way that would attract buyers into their showrooms.

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    photo by Clem Onojeghuo
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    pictures by Brett Jordan and Markus Spiske
    As the automobile grew to be a bigger part of people's lives so did customer’s expectations. At this point, technology was far outpacing the ability and the willingness of legacy car companies to catch up, some didn't even try at all! What resulted was an industry iterating at a snail pace in comparison to Apple, Google, Samsung, and Amazon. Automotive designers were well aware of this and sought ways to design products that reflected these contemporary values. Most companies weren't concerned with addressing future technology in a viable and honest way. Rather, they chose to iterate a product that was easy to build with readily available parts.

    “Let's offer the buyer a racing stripe kit or how about extra USB ports…. That's what they want right?

    The result was an entire industry iterating at a snail's pace and buyers increasingly disappointed because this no longer reflected their values and core beliefs. Car companies couldn't understand why.

    Enter Tesla
    The year is 2012 and the Tesla Model S entered production. It was the first of its kind in many ways but one thing I can remember vividly was the controversy surrounding the center display screen. No matter who you spoke to, 99% of people within the auto industry found it odd and uncomfortable. They didn't get it. They felt the interior lacked knobs and buttons to validate its existence. Everyone made fun of it and thought it was the dumbest thing ever.

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    Tesla Model S photo by Alex Iby
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    Tesla Model S interior picture by Roberto Nickson
    look at the panel gaps and tolerances! They're terrible. That's not premium. That's not luxury.

    What some in the industry (those who’ve been in it too long) failed to see was that consumers' values had shifted. Now more than ever, brands must demonstrate and awareness in core principles such as sustainability, clean energy, and over-the-air software updates. Honestly, if a smartphone can do it, why not their cars?

    Designer Silo Approach
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    Photo by Deneen LT from Pexels
    Ionly began to truly understand what the term “ vertical integration” meant when I moved to Silicon Valley in August of 2019. The abundance of start-ups and established companies I’ve come into contact with currently implementing this idea demonstrates how traditional car studios have been held back by the processes and ideals of an industry just waking up to their new reality.

    Currently, most car design studios suffer from the same flaw; little to no talk about technology and how to incorporate it into the overall design experience of the vehicle. In every company that I worked for, designers and engineers sat in different rooms while UX and software development occurred in a completely different location.

    There was never a moment where we, as a design team, sat down with the experience design team, for example, to discuss how we could all work together to create a seamless vehicle experience for the customer.

    There was never any mention of vertically integrating any technology in a way that reflected its values onto the exterior or interior of the car. These missed opportunities to define a new overall brand approach fell on deaf ears due to it not “ aligning with the company's core values”. Please keep in mind that these “ core values” were cemented in the 20th century.

    What’s the Answer?
    Automotive companies need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves where they want to be in 5 years. I don't believe there is one group to fault here. Rather, it's a collection of practices and processes that have been implemented for decades that have caused a mix of complacency and arrogance amongst the industry.

    A fundamental shift has occurred over the last decade in which the Chinese car market has exploded with a plethora of new players jockeying for position. Companies like BAIC, Great Wall, and Geely have invested huge sums of capital and manpower to challenge the incumbents of the auto industry. With no legacy to hold them back, they have been able to take giant leaps in electrification and user experience, garnering worldwide attention. They are not bound by legacy or president. Rather, they’ve embraced their opportunity to offer something progressive and new, challenging current trends and defining their own in the process.

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    Change is going to rely on acknowledging that last century's business practices no longer apply in today's changing world.

    Designers face a huge mountain to climb. On one hand, they must look at what makes their brand unique and exciting and deliver on that vision. On the other hand, they must always be on top of current and future trends, trying to predict the future 5–6 years out. It's like trying to drive down a dark and windy road with nothing but a flashlight.

    Hyper-accelerated timeframes, reflecting core values customers can identify with, and integrating a process that allows for a truly sustainable future is the key to a brand that will survive the next few years.

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  14. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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  15. energy88

    energy88 F1 World Champ
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    Agree. Maybe it is because the "real estate" available for each side of the vehicle is too limited to carry out much that is aesthetically pleasing.

    However, asymmetry opens up the possibility for "flipped" plans much like in the housing industry. But I would expect that the cost of a second set of tooling would nix that possibility.

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  16. 330 4HL

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  17. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Like I said, most failed.
    There are exceptions.
     
  18. 330 4HL

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    Well, it more or less failed as well; it's difficult for the Avanti to "swim" with a Studebaker "boat anchor" around its neck.

    WOW, I just realized that I've mentioned Studebaker twice here in the last month!
    I would never have thought it possible. What are the odds??

    I've frequently flirted with the desire to own one of the early cars with the round lights, but could never convince myself it was a better option than the '53 coupe, so in the end I've had neither...
    Often wondered if Gandini was influenced by those odd wheel arches -
     
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  19. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Steady-peckker :eek:
     
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  20. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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  21. Tcar

    Tcar F1 Rookie

    Barely.... I thought of the Avanti also, but a raised area on the hood doesn't really qualify I don't think.
    Othr than that, it's symmetry all the way.
     
  22. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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  23. jm2

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  24. 330 4HL

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    Has Ital Design been spun out of VW group? How did I miss that??
    If not, why are they doing design work for DongFeng?

    BTW, have never seen dental floss used in wheels before...
     
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  25. jm2

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  26. Tcar

    Tcar F1 Rookie

    They're still under Lamborghini, but are doing about 1/4 of their work outside VW. They want to increase that percentage in the near future.
     
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  27. tritone

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    Groovy! Self-cleaning wheels.....no more kneeling on the wet pavement to toothbrush the brake dust out of your wheels.....:D
     

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