Polestar Announces Project 0 to Build a Carbon-Neutral Car by 2030

·3 min read
Photo credit: Polestar
Photo credit: Polestar
  • Polestar today released plans to make a "cradle to gate" climate-neutral car by 2030 by addressing manufacturing and supplier emissions, under the name Project 0.

  • The announcement was made alongside the release of Polestar's first sustainability report, which states that the company itself, a Volvo affiliate, plans to be entirely carbon neutral by 2040.

  • It is unclear if Polestar will make one of its current vehicles or one of those it has planned, carbon neutral by 2030, or have a new vehicle fulfill that goal.

Polestar announced today it is aiming to build a carbon-neutral car by 2030 and as a company, is planning on going carbon neutral by 2040, meaning it will eliminate emissions throughout the entire manufacturing process rather than just offset them. The announcement comes as part of Polestar's first sustainability report, which gives numbers on the automaker's emissions and those of its suppliers and addresses the sourcing of materials.

Carbon neutrality is generally achieved through offsetting emissions, which often takes the form of planting trees. Emissions from building a car, or from an entire company, are calculated, and then those emissions are then offset equally by carbon-dioxide removal. Polestar's CEO, Thomas Ingenlath, said in a press release today that this isn’t how Polestar’s car will reach carbon neutrality; rather, the Volvo affiliate intends to do so by altering the way the car is made. "Offsetting is a cop-out," Ingenlath said.

The goal of actually manufacturing a carbon-neutral car is new, but other automakers have already made declarations to go carbon neutral. GM announced in January its plans to go carbon neutral by 2040 along with its aim to stop building light-duty gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. Subaru, VW, and Ford all plan to go carbon neutral by 2050.

Polestar didn’t say whether any of its current vehicles or a future vehicle would be the one to be carbon neutral. Polestar currently offers two cars, the Polestar 1, a hybrid coupe, and the Polestar 2, a full-electric sedan. Polestar also has an electric SUV planned, the Polestar 3, and also plans to put the Precept, a concept vehicle, into production.

Manufacturing an electric vehicle generally requires more carbon emissions than internal-combustion vehicles because of EVs' batteries. Figures from Polestar—which were originally released last fall—show that the Polestar 2 requires roughly 64 percent higher emissions to build than the Volvo XC40. But over the course of its lifetime, the Polestar 2 has fewer emissions than the XC40 based on emissions generated from the global average electricity mix.

Photo credit: Polestar
Photo credit: Polestar

The sustainability report details Polestar’s energy consumption and resulting emissions, along with the emissions of its suppliers. Other areas of focus in the report are circularity, which is an emphasis on recyclability and reusing materials, along with transparency, which in some cases, takes the form of traceability in materials. For example, Polestar uses blockchain technology to trace where the cobalt for its batteries come from, and the cobalt in the Polestar 2 comes from recycling factories in China.

Last fall, Polestar released a "life cycle assessment" of the Polestar 2 that examined material sourcing, parts manufacturing, vehicle assembly, and then the finished vehicle's use. Polestar, in a release, urged other automakers to release similar reports. "Car manufacturers have not been clear in the past with consumers on the environmental impact of their products," Ingenlath said in the release. "That’s not good enough. We need to be honest, even if it makes for uncomfortable reading."

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