Rear Window: Beyond Aesthetic Reasons
Polestar opted for the unusual when it presented its compact electric crossover. The initial unveiling welcomed a rear window-less design, which many of us assumed was Polestar’s way of seeking to prove they weren’t in line with Volvo’s usual utilitarian character through this uncommon feature showcased on just a single car.
Just recently, at its first Polestar Day event, the company revealed the finalized look of the Polestar 5 sedan. Much like with the Precept concept, this vehicle had no rear window whatsoever. In other words, Polestar is evidently determined to make cars that don’t require a back windshield. But don’t worry, if it’s in reverse, cameras are supposedly fitted to negate the need for vision out the back.
All that may sound, to put it mildly according to TikTok culinary specialist Keith Lee, “strange to me,” which is a polite way of saying “That’s pretty silly”. However, there should be a rhyme and a reason for it all, right? Surely Polestar hasn’t just limited rear visibility and the amount of natural light entering the interior of the car only because of style considerations – it’s more complex than that. There must be some explanation for this.
I had a precious opportunity to engage in a quick conversation with Graeme Lambert, the Design and Technology Communications Officer at Polestar Global, and I managed to deduce that there is actually more of a rationale than one would expect for the removal of the back window. Besides the fact it adds aesthetics; the effort involved to obtain the low graceful roofline needed to be very much manageable. The designers from Polestar wished for a sporty roofline and also for the cars especially Polestar 5, to have a low profile and the complete view of the sky through a glass roof.
That’s quite a demand. Designers and engineers confronted an issue: how could they do all of this, without sacrificing aesthetical appeal, or – most relevant to the Volvo-related company – safety? Would they make the car larger and taller, making it less attractive and possibly not so efficient? Damaging structural components so that captivating design could be accomplished was absolutely off the table.
Instead, the team chose to reconfigure the shape of the auto, omitting the rear glass. Lambert states that with the absence of the rear window, they had the opportunity to move the structural component, which binds the two sides of the car, back on the frame yielding a diminutive roofline without compromising either the handling or crucial crash ratings.
Putting your feelings on the Polestar 5’s lack of a rear window aside, it is no doubt amazing how narrow, wide, and muscular looking it appears in reality. Its design is far more sleek than those out-of-proportion models made by other companies – cars that unexpectedly turn out to be bigger after seeing them in pictures like Hyundai Ioniq 6. Furthermore, its full-length internal glass panel is among the most impressive and enormous features available in the industry.
Lambert continued to bring more ideas about the 4 and 5’s lack of a back window to the table. For example, in current times with massive pillars used for both design reasons but also as a structural safeguard for increased rigidity and safety, it isn’t surprising that rear visibility for modern crossovers is far from perfect.
Do you genuinely need a rear window in your vehicle? This is the question posed by Lambert – and while I’m not entirely convinced that the answer is yes or no, Polestar have implemented an alternative which is said to offer enhanced visibility. In lieu of a conventional rearview, they have installed a remarkably crystal clear camera to fill its place –
Will Polestar be the progenitor of a new fashion in reducing glass for both safety and style? It remains to be seen if other automakers will join in. The Changan and Huawei AVTAR 12 also seem to lack a rear window, meaning this concept is likely only going to increase in popularity.