Polestar is building a zero-emission car with no ‘elusive’ carbon offsets

Swedish electric performance car maker Polestar says it will build the world’s first truly zero-emission vehicle without relying on carbon offsets, which it described as an “exhaust.”

The company, which spun off from Volvo and Volvo’s parent company Geely, framed its effort to reduce carbon emissions by changing the way its cars are made as a “full moon target” that would result in the first carbon neutral vehicle in the world by 2030.

Carbon offsets, such as tree planting, have become a standard way for car companies and other companies to write off their carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy or conservation projects aimed at strengthening the capacity of forests. to store carbon naturally. But there is mounting evidence that offsets have failed to slow global warming and instead have given companies a license to continue polluting.

“Compensation is an excuse,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar’s CEO, in a statement. “In striving to create a completely climate-neutral car, we are forced to go beyond what is possible today. We will have to question everything, innovate and look for exponential technologies while we design towards zero ”.

FedEx, United, Delta and JetBlue said they would phase out all of their emissions for decades to come. And Uber and Lyft have pledged to be carbon neutral in a similar time frame.

The automaker makes two cars: the $ 155,000 Polestar 1 hybrid coupe and the Polestar 2 all-electric Fastback sedan. The Polestar 3, an electric crossover SUV, is expected to launch in late 2021. After its first vehicle, the company has said it will only produce electric vehicles.

The real challenge for Polestar will be removing carbon emissions from its production process and supply chain. Several major automakers have pledged to phase out gasoline vehicle production by a certain date, including General Motors, Ford, and Polestar’s parent company Volvo. But car production, including the extraction of rare earth minerals used in lithium-ion batteries, is a high-carbon process. Even reducing those emissions, not to mention eliminating them, will be a huge task.

Polestar, as a boutique operation, may have more flexibility to achieve its goals than other larger and therefore less agile companies. The company announced its Polestar 0 project as part of its first annual review, in which it also said that the sustainability statements would apply to all future Polestar models.

Sustainability statements, popular in industries like food and fashion, are a checklist of all the carbon emissions and waste associated with a product or process. Starting with the Polestar 2, the company says it will list the carbon footprint and tracked hazard materials associated with the production of each of its vehicles on its website.

“Today Polestar 2 leaves the factory gates with a carbon footprint,” Ingenlath said. “In 2030 we want to present a car that does not.”

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