Polestar details climate impact of electric vehicles – CO2 assessment of petrol Volvo XC40 vs Polestar 2

Polestar has begun publishing the full details of the impact from its electric vehicles upon the climate, the Swedish electric vehicle brand said in a statement. The company aims to do this by publishing figures to that effect, with the process beginning from the point the vehicles leave the production line.

The electrified vehicle brand that spun off from Volvo aims to “generate change in an industry that has struggled in recent years to convince consumers of its sustainability credentials”, and hope that other manufacturers will follow its lead in releasing their own figures for vehicles’ total environmental impact.

“Car manufacturers have not been clear in the past with consumers on the environmental impact of their products. That’s not good enough. We need to be honest, even if it makes for uncomfortable reading,” said Polestar CEO homas Ingenlath.

The Swedish electrified vehicle brand’s analysis has found that while the Polestar 2 produces a larger carbon footprint than an internal combustion Volvo XC40 in the manufacturing phase, it is surpassed by the ICE Volvo in carbon footprint after mileage 50,000 km has been clocked. This is measured in terms of CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalents.

Volvo XC40 T5

By comparison, further CO2e emissions from the Polestar 2 are negligible if charged with green energy, says Polestar. The aforementioned 50,000 km ‘break even’ point, as termed by Polestar where the ICE car overtakes the EV in carbon footprint, however, is assuming the Polestar 2 measured is being powered by entirely renewable wind power throughout the duration of usage.

There are two more tiers of energy usage described by Polestar’s report on the Polestar 2’s carbon footprint. if a European power mix – noted by Autocar as the average European electricity source mix across 28 countries – is used, then the distance the Polestar 2 needs to travel before its carbon footprint breaks even against that of the ICE XC40 increases to 78,000 km.

The break-even point gets pushed even further to 112,000 km when the Polestar 2’s carbon footprint is measured as using the global average power source mix, before the EV’s carbon footprint becomes smaller than that of the internal combustion Volvo XC40. For the purpose of this study, the vehicle lifetime driving distance for the Polestar is assumed to be 200,000 km, the company stated.

The manufacture of a Polestar 2 creates 24 tonnes of CO2e, compared to 14 tonnes of CO2e involved in the manufacture of one ICE Volvo XC40. The greater CO2 emissions involved have been mostly attributed to the production of the EV’s battery pack.

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Over the usage lifetime of 200,000 km, the petrol-powered XC40 (rated at 163 g/km of CO2 emissions) releases another 41 tonnes of CO2 through the use of fossil fuels. Over this length of usage, the Polestar 2 run on wind power has just half the carbon footprint of the ICE XC40, said Polestar.

That said, only the CO2 components is assessed as part of the tailpipe emissions for internal combustion-engined vehicles, while methane and nitrous oxide emissions are not included as part of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This could indicate how clean modern petrol engines have become, in terms of minimising pollution.

“Methane and nitrous oxide contribute to only a minor fraction of total tailpipe greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a petrol vehicle, and the exclusion of these emissions is not considered to influence the conclusions of the study,” Polestar said in its LCA report of the Polestar 2.

Beyond the life cycle assessment of CO2 emissions, Polestar also noted that ethical battery production is key minimising pollution. “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,” it said.

One issue faced by consumers in their quest to compare the climate impact of different cars is that there is a range of different calculations used by various manufacturers, says Polestar, who hopes that other manufacturers will open up and share in greater detail the environmental impact from the production of electric vehicles.

GALLERY: Polestar 2 in Frankfurt

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