In the final part of the previous decade, a Swedish-headquartered carmaker known as Polestar switched from its one-decade history of making Volvos quicker, which had led to it being acquired by the brand, to building EVs. In the process, Polestar announced it would take on Porsche. And now that it has revealed the 02 Concept, a roadster with a 2+2 layout, the promised battle seems closer than ever.
Polestar started out as a Swedish racing team back in 1996 and while the crew changed ownership over the following decade, it also started enhancing the performance of Volvo models in the late 2000s. Volvo decided to turn the company into an in-house tuner in 2009 and thus Polestar Performance was born.
Six years later, the Swedish automaker, which is owned by Chinese holding Geely, took over Polestar completely. In 2017, Volvo and Geely presented a new course for Polestar as an EV maker and the innovation arm for Volvo.
EV production models and more
The said reinvention of Polestar has so far brought us the Polestar 1, a 2+2 grand tourer released in 2017, which is a plug-in hybrid. Subsequently, the company switched to all-electric production, introducing the battery-powered Polestar 2 mid-size liftback in 2019.
And while the 2 is based on a platform shared with multiple models from carmakers Volvo, Geely, and also-Geely-owned Lynk & Co, the 2020 Polestar Precept show car debuted a new flagship platform that would serve future Polestar models.
We’re looking at a bonded aluminum chassis, which not only brings assets such as lightness and rigidity but also helps with recycling. While we’re on this topic, we have to mention that Polestar aims to become carbon-neutral by 2030.
The Percept is set to morph into the Polestar 5 flagship sedan in 2024, which will take on the Porsche Taycan—by then, we can expect the Germans to seriously boost performance to address the thousand-horsepower, three-motor offensive from American carmakers Tesla and Lucid.
Meanwhile, though, we’ll get the Polestar 3 sporty crossover by the end of this year and we can only assume a larger SUV is a contender for the Polestar 4 nameplate further down the line.
However, given Polestart’s sporty DNA and its Porsche-rivaling ambition, the carmaker had to enter the sportscar arena with its own design rather than the Volvo derivative that is the Polestar 1. And this is where the new Polestar 02 Concept steps onto the scene.
Polestar’s 02 show car is a 2+2 droptop
As dictated by modern statements, the bonded aluminum platform of the Percept is a modular offering. And in the process of adapting this for the 02 (compared to the 5 sedan), the engineers shortened the wheelbase by removing the floor spaces destined for the rear passengers’ feet (more on this below).
And while the automaker has yet to release any tech data for the 02 concept, the battery and motor specs could mirror those of the larger offering, if the sportscar, whose roof can be lowered, ever makes it into production.
So far, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath, a German car designer who was previously Senior Vice President of Design at Volvo, hasn’t made any specific mention of a showroom version, nor has the head honcho denied the possibility. However—and we are not just saying this out of lust for the appealing design, with its low and wide stance and those muscular fenders—it looks like Polestar could use a sportscar in its quest for EV superlatives.
The interior is not a departure from Polestar’s recently-established style. Nor should it be, as we’re dealing with a clean approach and sustainable materials. For one, the soft bits of the cabin rely on polyester, which not only makes for a recycling asset but also improves the efficiency of the production process.
Polestar vs. Porsche
A standout feature of the Polestar 02 is an autonomous drone that can keep up with the vehicle at speeds of up to 56 mph/90 kph. This can then come back to the car and allow the occupants to edit the driving footage it had captured straight from the vehicle’s 15-inch infotainment screen.
Sure, it’s nice to fantasize about that, but if Polestar wants to give Porsche sportscars some proper competition, there’s another aspect it needs to cover And that is the driving experience.
We live in an era when the quickest production cars in the world are electric sedans with 1,000 horsepower. And even when an electric powertrain is tasked with moving a hefty pickup truck body around, the massive power numbers and instant torque means the straight-line performance is mighty impressive.
However, with a sportscar such as the 02 concept, the driving experience needs to be the focus. And managing to keep the human behind the wheel fully immersed without the sound and vibrations of an internal combustion engine, but with the added weight of the current batteries, is quite a tall order, no matter how good the steering or the brakes are.
Naturally, Porsche is playing the legacy automaker card—company founder Ferdinand Porsche was building EVs and hybrids three decades before it established the brand in 1931, while the company’s sportscar history can be traced back to the pre-911 356 that entered production in 1948.
However, the challenges mentioned above remain the same for the entire industry. And, so far, that 2+2 setup of the Polestar 02, which should allow children to ride in the back comfortably, shows the Swedes are paying attention, as this is one of the features that has allowed the Porsche 911 to exert dominance in the sportscar segment (most of its competitors stick to a two-seater configuration).
The German automaker certainly isn’t rushing to electrify its core model, so Polestar’s presumed production electric sportscar, which would arrive after 2025, is more likely to battle the battery-powered successor(s) of the 718 range.
These Porsche electric sportscars, which are also expected to debut in the second part of the current decade, were previewed by last year’s Mission R, a 718 Cayman-sized concept with up to 1,073 horses.
At 4.7 meters in length, the 02 Concept casts a more generous shadow than the 4.5m-long 911, which in turn eclipses the 4.38m 718 two-seater. So it remains to be seen how the battle can heat up in the future.
The financial aspects
Last year, Polestar sold 29,000 vehicles globally, which made for a 185% year-to-year increase. However, that’s still less than 10% of Porsche’s overall 2021 sales.
Nevertheless, Polestar has solid economic plans, from the 3 crossover becoming the company’s first model to be built in the U.S. rather than imported from China, to the Nasdaq stock exchange listing, which should take place this year via a SPAC merger, following a deal secured in 2021.
So, as we wait for the electric sportscar segment to heat up, we can feast our eyes on the glorious shapes of the Polestar 02 concept in the gallery and video below.
And, in case you’re wondering how the roadster appears under the Californian sun, we’ve added an image from the Beverly Hills launch event held yesterday, with this coming from Maximilian Missoni, the company’s head designer.