Nearly every automaker is releasing at least one electric car this year. But, for the most part, they follow a theme. They’re all one-car-fits-all designs. Mostly crossovers, they’re meant to serve as daily drivers. They have seating for five, enough cargo space to haul a weekend’s worth of projects home from the hardware store, and enough luxury and tech features to impress a date.
That is, you can buy one and have it serve as your only car. Range may be an issue on road trips, but many electric vehicle manufacturers meet that need by letting you borrow their gas-powered models for a set number of days a year as part of your purchase.
What we haven’t seen yet is an EV built for the love of driving. Something that won’t work as a daily driver (unless your days are all carefree). But something beautiful, exhilarating to drive, and a little impractical. The kind of car you lust after.
Polestar has that covered.
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What is Polestar?
In case you haven’t seen the commercials post-Super Bowl, Polestar is an all-electric automaker that spun off from Volvo VLVLY, +3.48% several years ago. It sees itself as a different sort of company. Polestar publishes a carbon footprint for every car it builds and admits when they’re not ideal. It aims to be carbon-neutral without buying offsets – the trick most automakers use to make their emissions look better than they are. It pokes fun at Tesla’s TSLA, -3.64% Elon Musk in its ads, saying it won’t waste energy focusing on Mars.
Polestar’s lone product these days is the Polestar 2—a car that fits neatly into the description above about catchall EVs.
But it’s planning something more inspiring and less practical.
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A hero car
The automaker this week pulled the curtain off a concept car that may or may not be headed for production. Polestar calls it “a hero car” for the brand – something like what the 911 is to Porsche POAHY, +4.40% or the Corvette is to Chevrolet. It’s called the O2.
And it’s gorgeous.
It looks a bit like a futuristic Nissan Z might look if Nissan NSANY, +1.80% decided to make it a hardtop convertible. Like the classic Z cars, it’s settled back on its haunches like a big cat ready to pounce. Its sharp slash of a roof is mostly glass. There’s enough mass behind the seats to almost suggest its mid-engine.
The O2 concept
But there’s no engine. Polestar has given no mechanical details on the car other than to say it’s all-electric. So we assume the running gear is all flat beneath the floor, like most second-generation EVs. Polestar hasn’t revealed range or power figures. Like most performance EVs, if Polestar were to build it, they’d likely offer a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive setup and a dual-motor option that powered all four wheels with a motor on each axle.
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Built to be recycled
What the company will talk about is the design process. The O2 pioneers new techniques in sustainable car building. The aluminum structure is forged with renewable energy. Beyond that, each component is labeled with the grade of aluminum it contains, making the car easy to recycle at the end of its life.
Speaking of recycling, the seat foam and upholstery are all composed of one single type of plastic. That, again, should make recycling the car at the end of its life simple.
Yes, it has its own drone
Then there’s the headline-grabbing toy. The O2 includes its own cinematic drone, which the driver can launch at the touch of a button. It follows along (at up to 56 mph), filming the car, then returns home at the touch of a button. There’s no word on what it does if you try to use it to film yourself driving 57 mph.
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This is something new
The drone is a whimsical idea unlikely to make it beyond the concept stage. But it speaks to what’s unique about the O2. While most EVs these days try to be all things to all potential buyers, the O2 is something different. It’s a car a kid might have wanted on a poster a generation ago.
It’s an EV, and one built with an eye toward sustainability. That makes it an effort to rein in the excesses of the auto industry. But it’s also an achingly beautiful drop-top 2+2 — an effort to build a soulful car no one would buy for practical reasons.
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If the auto industry is going electric, it’s going to have to build a lot of hefty crossovers of the kind Americans love these days and make them run on electricity. But it’s also going to have to find a way to speak to our love of cars. The O2 could start that conversation in a way no midsize family-hauler could. We hope to see it built as something more than a concept.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.