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How to calculate a feeling

Joakim Rydholm on finding the Polestar DNA

In theory you could build a perfect car virtually by just feeding a machine numbers and calculations. But we’re not making cars for virtual customers. We’re making cars for real people.

In the press he has jokingly been called "the father of Polestar 1". He might not endorse this title himself, but it shows of the level of his involvement in the development of the car. Joakim Rydholm is a well-known name in the industry. Some of you may have seen him on the racetracks, helmet on, test driving Polestar 1 or Polestar 2, fine-tuning the characteristics and driving experience of the cars. As Chief Development Engineer, he plays an important role in developing the Polestar DNA. However, Joakim is keen to emphasise that it’s all about teamwork.
 
“A car is a very complex thing and certainly not a one-man show. It’s a massive collective effort and one of my main assignments is to hold the team together, ensuring that there is good communication between all parties so that we can make well-informed decisions. Of course, there are a lot of different opinions from a lot of people - that’s where I need to step in and decide which direction we’re going to take and make the final call. But at the end of the day, we always arrive at something that everyone can stand behind and agree on as a team. That’s very important”, Joakim states.

Joakim estimates that he spends 60% of his time test-driving the cars. A car is very much a physical product, and the process of building one might seem quite straightforward. Joakim argues, however, that you can measure and calculate a lot of things in the hopes of building the “perfect” car, but it all comes down to the driving experience and finding the right feeling. 

“In theory you could build a perfect car virtually by just feeding a machine numbers and calculations. But we’re not making cars for virtual customers. We’re making cars for real people. And people have ears that are far more sensitive than any virtual measurements can express. People have hands that, if they put them on the steering wheel, pick up information about the road through tiny vibrations. We do all those things subconsciously and it affects how we experience the car and how we drive it. You can’t simulate that. At Polestar we believe that in order to make a great car you have to spend a lot of time in it. That’s why I’ve spent three years inside the Polestar 1.”

With the first cars leaving the assembly line, Joakim says he’s pleased to know that everyone will soon get the chance to see all of the teams’ hard work up close.

“The Polestar experience can’t be captured in words. It has to be felt”, Joakim summarises. 

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