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New report: The electric car is not as environmentally friendly as many people think



Increasingly strict emission requirements mean that the world’s car manufacturers must adapt. Therefore, we have also seen a huge growth of hybrid cars and pure electric cars in recent years.

It is no secret that electric cars are very positive for local emissions. But in the global picture, the whole thing is a little more nuanced than that.

Among other things, large carbon dioxide emissions are linked to production, especially battery packs. Another factor is all countries where cars get power from non-renewable energy sources, such as coal and gas.

To the newspaper The Telegraph, the top manager of Polestar, Thomas Ingenlath, expresses a wish that car manufacturers should be honest about the emissions in connection with electric car production.

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1; We must be honest

Ingenlath believes that it is immoral to tell customers that electric cars are completely clean.

He writes this to The Telegraph, under the title “Car manufacturers must be honest: Even electric cars are not clean”.

Polestar itself emphasizes that those as manufacturers strive to become the most transparent player in today’s car industry.

– Car manufacturers have previously not been clear enough with customers about how the products they sell affect the environment. That’s not good enough. We have to be honest, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, says Ingenlath.

Polestar's top manager, Thomas Ingenlath, wants more transparency about emissions in connection with electric car production.

Polestar’s top manager, Thomas Ingenlath, wants more transparency about emissions in connection with electric car production.

Large carbon dioxide emissions during production

With its own analyzes, Polestar has revealed that the new electric car Polestar 2 leaves the factory with a carbon dioxide footprint of a total of 26 tonnes.

Compared with a similar Volvo XC40 with an internal combustion engine, the electric car has much higher carbon dioxide emissions in the production phase due to high energy consumption in the production of the battery.

While the production of a Volvo XC40 with a fossil engine has a carbon footprint of 14 tonnes, the corresponding figure for the Polestar electric car is 24 tonnes. In other words, carbon dioxide emissions from electric car production are almost twice as high.

Also read: VAT on electric cars can be introduced as early as January 1, 2022

As the pie chart shows, battery production accounts for large parts of the emissions on Polestar 2.

As the pie chart shows, battery production accounts for large parts of the emissions on Polestar 2.

Must drive 78,000 kilometers

Polestar has also published the so-called “balance point” for Polestar 2. It shows how far you have to drive the electric car before the carbon footprint becomes smaller than a fossil car.

Where the charging current comes from has a lot to say about the total carbon dioxide accounts.  In Norway, we have 98 percent renewable energy, so it is of course going well in this area.

Where the charging current comes from has a lot to say about the total carbon dioxide accounts. In Norway, we have 98 percent renewable energy, so it is of course going well in this area.

The figures are based on a life cycle analysis that includes emissions from material production, car production and logistics, the car’s use phase and disposal.

Based on a global electric mix, it is only after 112,000 kilometers driven that the total carbon dioxide emissions will be lower on the electric car compared to the XC40 with a fossil engine.

Based on the European electricity mix, the figure is 78,000 kilometers.

In other words: Before you have traveled 78,000 kilometers in Polestar 2, you emit more carbon dioxide than your neighbor’s fossil car, according to the life cycle analysis.

If you only charge the car with wind power, the figure is 50,000 kilometers.

Also read: Tesla earns billions – due to new EU rule

Before you pass 78,000 kilometers in Polestar 2 (based on European electric mix), a Volvo XC40 with a fossil engine emits less carbon dioxide.

Before you pass 78,000 kilometers in Polestar 2 (based on European electric mix), a Volvo XC40 with a fossil engine emits less carbon dioxide.

Towards climate neutrality

Polestar emphasizes that they invest heavily in ensuring that the minerals used in the batteries are extracted responsibly, with full respect for human rights and minimal pollution.

Production of Polestar 2 is in full swing.

Production of Polestar 2 is in full swing.

– The message is clear; electric cars offer a path to climate neutrality, and we will use the insights from this report to achieve that goal, says Ingenlath.

Polestar points to the worrying lack of transparency in the industry, which today makes it impossible for customers to compare the climate impact of different cars.

A significant problem is that car manufacturers use different calculations for “Life Cycle Assessments”, ie. life cycle analyzes. Polestar therefore shares its entire methodology and now demands more openness and transparency from other manufacturers.

– Fragmentation only leads to confusion. Car manufacturers must stand together to be more transparent, says Fredrika Klarén, responsible for sustainability at Polestar.

– We at Polestar believe that we as an industry can help customers make the right choice, she concludes.

Also read: Record sales of hybrid cars – yet emissions increase

Many Polestar 2s start rolling on Norwegian roads.  This is admittedly a Swedish press car.

Many Polestar 2s start rolling on Norwegian roads. This is admittedly a Swedish press car.

The case was first published on Broom.no


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