Recent 02 concept hinted at Polestar's sustainability plans
Polestar has made an ambitious pledge to launch a “truly climate-neutral car” in 2030, and is now two years into a lengthy research and development programme aimed at determining how the environmental impact of its supply and construction processes could be slashed.
The programme is called Polestar 0 – a reflection of its intended environmental impact. Hans Pehrson, previously Polestar R&D boss and now charged with bringing it to fruition, stressed to Autocar that the aim is to create a “commercialised car” rather than a concept.
“What kind of car will come later – convertible, SUV, city car, whatever…” he said, explaining that the 10-year programme (which began in 2020) is divided into three distinct stages.
“We have a detailed timeline to get there. We should have a production start in 2030. Three years before that point, we need to start detailed product development in the automotive business: 36 months is quite common.
“Before that starts, we need to look into architecture. Will we build it on aluminium, steel or something else? Will it be four-wheel drive? Will the battery be under the floor?”
Pehrson said his division will “have to be ready with really deep research” in 2025 in order for the company to meet its targets.
The research programme will take into account the impact of all materials, components and processes used in car construction, but Pehrson said: “If we make a breakthrough this year or next year, we can implement them in a model-year change or in a new car launching in 2024, 2025 or 2026.”
Polestar has so far integrated more than 30 companies into the 0 project and it demonstrated the work of some of these at its Polestar Day event in Los Angeles.
These include seats made using 'fossil-free steel' from a company called SSAB, plastics from Dama BioPlastics that are made using plant waste, and a material called PaperShell that turns paper back into wood.
This is intended to replace the 30-plus polymer plastics that typically end up in a car and it can be used for both A and B sides of parts and is a favourite of Volvo designers for its aesthetic qualities.
Polestar design boss Maximilian Missoni echoed Pehrson in confirming that the goal was to create a car from the project and it might be "a different type of car from what you'd expect" due to how radical the approach was in building a car from the ground-up not using fossil fuels in its creation rather than trying to remove fossil fuels from an existing model.
"We might not get to zero," said Missoni, "but even to get down to five tonnes of CO2 would be worthwhile." The firm's lowest CO2 model is the 19.4 tonnes of CO2 produced over its lifetime, including production, of the new Polestar 4.
Missoni didn't rule out a model smaller than the 2 for a production Polestar 0 as one idea. "When we understand how different it is, then we decide the type of car. I'm not excluding or including anything, so long as it fits with the brand."
Each Polestar model is being developed and designed with a heavy focus on sustainability.