From 'well to tank,' or battery, as the case may be.
Creating electric vehicles is one way to curb carbon emissions. Despite much of our electricity here in the US still coming from fossil fuels, EVs don't add to the amount of pollution from their tailpipes once they're driving on the road. As we've learned, Polestar is going further. The brand announced that it plans to create the first carbon-neutral car in the Polestar 0 and it will be ready for sale in 2030.
"No other OEM has taken on the challenge of making a truly climate neutral car, without relying on third-party offsetting like tree planting," a Polestar rep told us.
The important part here is the process. The biggest challenges, Polestar says, are creating or sourcing carbon-neutral steel and aluminum, along with setting up battery centers to collect batteries to create circularity.
Let's start with the metals. Steel is good, and we use a lot of it, about 2,000 pounds per vehicle on average. On the sustainability scale, steel scores high. It's continuously recyclable and has lower CO2 lifecycle emissions than many other automotive materials. The problem is the industry.
More than 2,000 million tons of iron ore is mined a year, most of which is used for steel. The mining of ore causes air pollution in the form of nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide from diesel generators, trucks and other equipment. It also causes water pollution with heavy metals and acid that drains from mines. That drainage can go on for lifetimes after the mining has stopped.
Moving to the aluminum sector, key in the transportation industry, it generates about 2% of global human-caused emissions and demand is increasing. It's expected to grow by 50% by 2050.
Polestar's plan is to pick its partners carefully.
"What will be key here is to make it happen together with suppliers who use 100% renewable energy and use materials that are circular and climate-neutral," said a company rep. "Polestar is now assessing how its suppliers commit to climate in our procurement process, but we cannot share a list of suppliers that will be involved in Polestar 0 Project just yet."
The batteries, which Polestar currently sources from CATL and LG Chem, are another huge issue. Besides the heavy metals that go into them, we still don't know what to do with them once they're done with their life cycle. Polestar is creating battery centers to collect used units and recycle them. The brand didn't have more to share on that, except that progress will be shared on Polestar's website and at retail spaces as soon as it's available.
Polestar has a leg up on legacy automakers in that it can create a new process out of whole cloth. By comparison, GM is an aircraft carrier. It takes months, even years to change course. Polestar is a jet ski, an electric, Swedish-inspired jet ski.