The quest for EV efficiency is sacrificing good design


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Designer turned CEO Thomas Ingenlath questions importance of efficiency and highlights “brilliant new ideas”.

CEO Thomas Ingenlath says he would trade away some of an electric car’s efficiency and range to ensure it has a unique visual identity.

In a keynote speech at the Financial Times Future of the Car Conference in London, he asked: “Do we all have to be the weltmeister [champion] of efficiency? Do we all have to strive for the longest and the best range?

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“I think, to a certain degree, for a certain character of the car, you might actually give [away] that one or two kilometres of range in order to give you a brand identity.

“If you ask me personally, at Polestar, I would definitely, for some kind of quality in the character of the car, give away a certain percentage of efficiency.

“But, of course, it has to be a reasonable amount. I think our customers would appreciate that as well.”

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The approach is exemplified by the upcoming Polestar 6, a two-seat roadster positioned as the brand’s halo car – a model that Ingenlath previously said it would be “irresponsible” not to produce following the reception to it in O2 concept car form.

He also defended the absence of a rear window in the upcoming Polestar 4. The electric crossover instead features a flat rear deck and a roof-mounted rear-view camera, intended to enhance both crash safety and visibility – a “brilliant new idea”, according to Ingenlath.

He said: “Why can’t we not just simply look at that innovation and feel like ‘oh, wow, what’s that?’. No, this is immediately [controversial].

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“It’s not at all a ‘designer thing’ where we said ‘Ah, let’s make the car look fancy, different’ and for that reason we did it.

“It’s a simple innovation and technology question. For how many years have we been fighting with the two different tendencies [visibility and safety] that we try to bring together?

“Yes, on one hand, you still want to have a good view in your back mirror. At the same time, people sitting in the back [have a] bar in the area where your head is. You would like to bring it further back, but you can’t bring that construction further back, because then it’s in the viewing angle.

“So it’s a dilemma that we are in. How do you solve that dilemma instead of [having journalists] writing forever that the rear view is bad? You can read it in every article every time the rear view is bad – so how do you solve that?

“You look into what’s possible with technology, and it is possible to solve it with a video stream projected onto a screen, and boom, suddenly, you realise, wow, what was this teeny tiny black view is suddenly amazing.

“And even in the night, it’s much better than [before], so it’s a great innovation. It has the benefit that suddenly you have new aesthetics, and you can actually make the car look a little bit unconventional compared with what it was before.”

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