Analysis: Polestar lifts the lid on lifetime EV emissions

In an ideal world, with the Polestar charged using entirely renewable wind power, a driver would still need to travel 31,000 miles before the EV’s carbon footprint becomes smaller than the petrol XC40’s. This wind-powered scenario would involve just 0.4 tonnes of carbon being released over 125,000 miles of travel.

If the 2 is charged from what Polestar calls the ‘European grid’ – the average electricity mix across 28 countries – the EV has to travel 50,000 miles before its lifetime carbon footprint is lower than the petrol XC40’s.

Clearly, the mix of wind and nuclear power across Europe significantly helps to reduce the CO2 load when recharging an EV. Polestar’s calculations, based on the average global energy mix, show it would take 70,000 miles before the 2 had a CO2 advantage over the petrol XC40.

The Polestar report considered only CO2 emissions from the XC40, saying “methane and nitrous oxide emissions (CH4 and N2O) are not included [because they] contribute to only a minor fraction of the total tailpipe GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from a petrol car”. That highlights just how clean a modern petrol engine can be in terms of air pollution.

Polestar isn’t limiting its examination of the EV business to just a carbon lifecycle calculation, noting that ethical battery manufacturing is also key. The firm said: “We work hard to ensure that the minerals we use in our batteries are mined responsibly, paying full respect to human rights and creating minimal pollution.”

As with related firm Volvo, Polestar is using technology to track cobalt through its supply chain to check the methods by which it’s mined.

The Chinese-owned Swedish brand is laying down a serious challenge to rival EV makers, not just in terms of revealing the energy used to make battery packs but also in promising future transparency in relation to mineral mining.

In a premium market space that trades almost entirely on environmental credentials, Polestar’s transparency pitch could give the brand a decisive advantage over rival car makers that cannot, or perhaps will not, release similarly detailed audits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *