Polestar O2: high-powered electric roadster presented at Goodwood

1 year, 10 months ago - 1 July 2022, autocar
Polestar O2: high-powered electric roadster presented at Goodwood
Radical concept uses Precept's supercar-stiff platform; company bosses hint it will become a flagship

Polestar has presented its stunning electric roadster concept at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, debuting the model alongside the four-door Polestar 5 grand tourer. 

The model, named the Polestar O2, imagines a future ‘hero car’ for the brand. Its appearance at the motoring event is the first time the car been seen in public. 

The potential Tesla Roadster rival is based on an adapted version of the aluminium architecture that has been developed by Polestar’s UK engineering base in Warwickshire for the forthcoming Polestar 5 sports saloon and that, the firm has previously said, offers “supercar levels” of body stiffness.

The O2 takes design cues from the Precept concept – which previewed the 2024 Polestar 5 – and Ingenlath said it was developed with two goals: further reinforcing the brand’s image as a “luxury sports brand”, and pushing internal development.

“The energy and vision that it brings into the company definitely drives us,” said Ingenlath. “We made the Precept a reality with the Polestar 5, and that’s the result of us daring to go out with that vision.”

At the model's official reveal earlier this year, Polestar's CEO Thomas Ingenlath said it would be “irresponsible” not to push to put it into production in the future.

Asked by Autocar if the O2 will lead to a production version, Ingenlath said: “From packaging and how it’s constructed, it’s possible to put such a car in production.” He added: “Our concept cars breed that spirit of being tangible and realistic.

Although he insisted there are no firm plans beyond the forthcoming Polestar 3 (large SUV), 4 (medium SUV) and 5, he added: “What is beyond 2025, the future will tell. We definitely put out a dream here, and we would be very irresponsible if we would not do everything possible to actually live our dreams and make them real.

He added that an electric roadster is "a great missed opportunity, and I would love to grab that opportunity", and that drivers would not miss the noise of 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.”

Polestar has yet to release full technical details of the O2, but the car will use the performance powertrain that appeared in the Precept and will enter production in the 5.

 The O2, which features a fixed retracting roof, is substantially shorter than the 5, at around 4600mm long, with the wheelbase shrunk by around 400mm. This has been enabled by removing the ‘foot garage’ – a well in the skateboard chassis floor of the 5 to increase rear leg room – from the platform. Polestar claims this will allow the model to maintain huge rigidity, ensuring it offers strong handling and dynamics.

The concept sits on 22in wheels and features aerodynamically sculpted bodywork that is designed to maximise range by improving airflow and reducing turbulence behind the vehicle.

The O2 has also been created with a focus on sustainability in terms of design and materials, notably with 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 the machine makes use of recycled materials where possible, including in the aluminium shells.

The focus on sustainability has included learning from Polestar’s project to develop a truly zero-emission car by 2030. 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.”

The O2 also contains a novel feature: an autonomous cinematic drone, developed by Hoco Flow, which 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.

Asked if the O2 could be mechanically linked to future models from Geely-owned sibling brand Lotus, Ingenlath said: "The O2 highlights what we created for the Polestar 5. 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, and 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."

Support Ukraine