New Polestar O2 roadster concept is your new favourite dream car

2 Mar 2022

This is the Polestar O2 concept, a stunning electric roadster that imagines a future of top-down zero-emission motoring pleasure – and previews a possible rival to the next-generation Tesla Roadster.

The new machine from the Sino-Swedish performance brand is a 2+2 roadster that is built on a modified version of the platform that has been developed for the forthcoming Polestar 5 roadster. That model, which was previewed as the Polestar Precept a few years back, will use a new aluminium architecture that has been developed at Polestar’s UK engineering base in Warwickshire.

First, the bad news: Polestar boss Thomas Ingenlath insists the O2 is purely a concept car at this stage. Now the good news: the firm hasn’t ruled out a production version.

Asked by Move Electric about production intent for the O2, Ingenlath said: “We have not put it into our business plan. Our business plan has already three cars for until 2024 in the books [the Polestar 3, 4 and 5] and we are fully occupied with making those real: you can imagine developing three cars simultaneously is a hell of an effort for us.

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“What is beyond 2025, the future will tell. We definitely put out here a dream, and we would be very irresponsible if we would not do everything possible to actually live our dreams and make them real.”

For the record, Move Electric agrees: when the O2 looks this good – seriously, look at it – it would be utterly irresponsible if it didn’t lead to a production version eventually.

What is the O2 concept?

It’s an ultra-rare thing: an electric roadster, featuring a retractable folding hard-top. You won’t find many of those around.

“It’s a great missed opportunity, and I would love to grab that opportunity,” said Ingenlath. “There are two prejudices: one is that a sports car has to have a combustion engine. The propulsion of an electric drivetrain is great for a sports car. And then to do it when an open roof concept, when everybody dreams about ‘the fresh air, the breeze, being closer to nature’ - it’s a perfect fit to have that with an electric drivetrain, and not only have fresh air when you arrive at it, but you’ll leave it for the people behind you. 

“Electric propulsion is absolutely a perfect fit for a roadster, so I would love to put an exclamation mark that the future of driving an open roadster has to be electric.”

The O2 also serves as a new 'halo car' for the firm. The brand launched with the Polestar 1, a high-performance hybrid grand tourer that was designed to showcase its performance credentials.

Maximilian Missoni, Polestar's design chief, said: "The Polestar 1 is going out of production now, and as the start-up performance electric brand we need such a halo statement – and this is a clear successor statement to the Polestar 1. 

"I'm quite glad that now this answers questions such as 'how will you differentiate yourself from Volvo? What's the design? What's the story?' With Precept and this car we're pretty clear that we're not Volvo any more, we're our own brand. We've found our own identity."

And, just so we're clear, we're pretty sure the O2 name is to link to Oxygen and not through a tie-up with the mobile phone network... 

What’s the Polestar O2 based on?

First a quick refresher on Polestar’s line-up so far: the Polestar 1 was a limited-run grand tourer and the 2 is a sporty electric crossover. The 3 will arrive this year as a large SUV, the smaller 4 SUV will follow next year and the 5 sports saloon will launch in 2024.

Underneath that stunning styling, the O2 uses an adapted version of the performance platform Polestar has developed for the 5. The firm has previously claimed it offers “supercar levels” of body stiffness.

Polestar has yet to release full technical details about the O2, but it will use the same powertrain that featured in the Precept and will go into production in the 5. 

It’s not simply an open-top version of the 5 though: at 4600mm it’s substantially shorter than the 5 (which is just over 5000mm). That’s been achieved by removing the ‘foot garage’ – a well in the skateboard chassis floor of the 5 to increase rear legroom – from the platform. Polestar claims that it shortens the wheelbase by around 400mm, while allowing the model to maintain high levels of rigidity, ensuring it offers strong handling and dynamics.

The O2 sits on 22in wheels, and features aerodynamically sculpted bodywork designed to maximise range by improving air flow and reducing turbulence behind the machine.

Any links to other car firms?

Polestar was a created as a spin-off from Volvo, and is part of the vast Chinese Geely Group. Notably, that also includes British firm Lotus, which also has a focus on making performance cars - and is also developing a range of electric SUVs.

But Ingenlath insisted the O2 and the platform it is based on was developed purely for Polestar.

"The O2 highlights what we created for the Polestar 5," he said. "This aluminium frame is Polestar-developed and serves other purposes, being able to have this grand, luxurious GT on there in the Polestar 5. This concept we designed for Polestar, but every brand in the Geely group would like to use it and we are open to cooperation. But it has to serve the purpose of the brand, and I cannot talk here for other brands of the Geely group.

"When it comes to powertrain, us developing a powerful electric engine for top-line performance, this is technology that is not just solely interesting for the Polestar brand but that we consider sharing within the Geely Group.

How the O2 promotes sustainability

Polestar has a major focus on sustainability: it’s previously outlined the lifecycle carbon impact of its cars, and is working on developing an entirely zero-emission car – both in production and usage – that it wants to launch in 2030.

The O2 concept features elements that show the firm’s progress towards that goal, with extensive use of sustainable materials and recycled elements.

Notably, there’s a new thermoplastic mono-material used as the base for various components, and the use of recycled polyester for all the soft interior materials. Polestar says that the machine makes use of recycled materials where possible, including in the aluminium shells.

Design chief Maximilian Missoni said: “We’ve put some of the ideas we’ve developed from Project Zero into the O2 to say, ‘look, we can do products that are highly emotional and aspirational, and still take people towards that goal towards zero emissions. It’s not like we’re going to enjoy ourselves as long as we can and then switch to tiny zero-emission cars: we can do both.”

There’s also a drone…

That’s right, a drone. The O2 contains its own autonomous cinematic drone, which can be used to capture the ultimate driving shots or, should you be so inclined, driving selfies. Instant Instagram upgrade, right there.

The drone has been developed by Hoco Flow, and can be deployed when the car is moving to record driving sequences. An aerofoil behind the rear seats raises with the roof down to create a calm area of negative pressure that will allow the drone to launch while the car is moving, and it can follow the car at speeds up to 56mph.

It even features a number of special filming modes, including one that can capture wide-angle atmosphere shots, a sportier mode and one that focuses on the driver’s face.

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