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Although the industry tells us that EVs are green, Polestar wants it to show its math. The company has produced a Life Cycle Assessment to show just EVs are impacting the environment and wants other manufacturers to follow suit.
The reason, the company says, is that automakers need to build trust. Although EVs have a reputation for being green, few people know exactly to what extent and that allows critics and proponents alike to mislead.
“Car manufacturers have not been clear in the past with consumers on the environmental impact of their products,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO. “That’s not good enough. We need to be honest, even if it makes for uncomfortable reading.”
According to Polestar’s own Life Cycle Assessment, the Polestar 2 leaves its factory with a carbon footprint weighing 26 tons. If that doesn’t sound great, it’s because it isn’t.
Polestar admits that that’s more than, say, an XC40. According to Polestar’s math, the XC40 manufacturing process produces 14 tons of CO2. The biggest reason for the disparity is the batteries, says the company, which are energy intensive to produce.
Fortunately, if the batteries are being charged with wind energy, the Polestar 2 catches the XC40 in just 31,000 miles. From then on out, the XC40 becomes more and more intensive.
Now, assuming that people will be charging their cars with green energy is a big leap, especially in the US, but I suppose that’s what we’d be working towards in an ideal world. I hardly need to tell you that our world is far from ideal at this particular moment in time.
European owners are likely to break even with an XC40 at a little less than 50,000 miles. Meanwhile, the average global owner is expected to break even at around 70,000 miles.
If you want to read Polestar’s full report, you can do so here. It’s pretty interesting and they really get into it, but the highlights are that Polestar used a few sources (its own and external materials databases) to figure out exactly what the Polestar 2 is made of. Turns out, there are about 10,000 different materials—though Polestar files those into 70 different categories to make the data manageable—in a car.
Polestar turned to its battery suppliers, meanwhile, to report the carbon footprint of a battery. Then manufacturing footprint is considered, and finally the amount of energy that goes into destroying and recycling the cars once they’re dead.
In all, an XC40 produces about 58 tons of CO2 in its lifetime whereas the Polestar 2 will, by the global average, produce 50 tons. One driven in Europe, meanwhile, should produce 42 tons, while a 2 driven entirely on wind energy could get away with producing just 27 tons—making it less than half as impactful as the XC40.