The world is slowly beginning to learn how to better calculate the full environmental impact of the millions of things that are produced every day. When it comes to cars, automakers are slowly beginning to not just understand their own impact, but also to share the information with the public.
The latest example comes from electric luxury brand Polestar, which recently published environmental Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for two new versions of the Polestar 2 electric vehicle from the 2020 model year. These vehicles, one equipped with the standard-range single-motor drive system and the other with the long-range single-motor setup, join the original launch edition of the Polestar 2 in getting a public LCA.
These LCAs look at all of the emissions that these cars will produce over their lifetime, from cradle to grave. For comparison, Polestar provides the numbers for these cars alongside the original Polestar 2 Launch Edition and a 2020 Volvo XC40 equipped with a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE). Polestar and Volvo are both owned by Geely Holding.
Obviously, the best that Polestar can offer is a reasonable estimate of the carbon emissions for one of its vehicles, since the actual amount will vary based on how it is charged and how often it is driven. For this analysis, Polestar decided that a full life for these vehicles is 200,000 kilometers (around 124,000 miles). Polestar also calculated a range of CO2 estimates based on different types of electric generation.
The base XC40 with its ICE, in Polestar’s estimation, will contribute 58 tons of CO2 during its life. The dirtiest Polestar 2, the Launch Edition, will add 50 tons (long-range dual-motor). The two new single-motor Polestar 2s will contribute either 46 tons (long range) or 45 tons (standard range). That’s based on using electricity generated with the emissions of the global average.
If you use the European average, the numbers drop to 39 and 38 tons, respectively. Using only wind power further reduces the impact to 26 or 25 tons, respectively. You can dig into further details on the emissions and methodology at the Polestar website.
This will not be the last time that Polestar will publish LCAs for its vehicles. Future carbon emission estimates might not be completely comparable to the figures in this report, since Polestar said it will “continue to improve the LCA methodology to create an even more robust methodology” in the future. One way the numbers will become more accurate is through an increase in the amount of supplier-specific data used in the LCAs, Polestar said.