What makes a sustainability leader? Inside Polestar's innovative EV vision
With the entry deadline for edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards on Friday (8 October), this series showcases the achievements of previous winners. Up next: Winner of our 'Product Innovation' award, Polestar.
Polestar has set out to be the “guiding star” in the automotive industry, accelerating the shift to green mobility through pure, progressive, performance. Polestar 2 is the business’ new all-electric posterchild and the first car produced in larger numbers. Transparency has also been a key focus.
With the Polestar 2 project, the company wants to inspire others to deliver large-scale environmental improvements across the value chain, from traceable cobalt and sustainable materials to electric mobility.
In 2020, it conducted a Life-Cycle Assessment of the Polestar 2 which shows the car’s full carbon footprint from cradle to grave. Carrying out the assessment helped the business focus its sustainability efforts as it moves towards net-zero. In an industry first, the business published the full report along with its methodology, showing exactly how and what is measured. Polestar has invited other carmakers to follow it in sharing findings and methodology with customers. Polestar aims to “design towards zero”. This is applied to anything from the extraction of raw materials, to responsible manufacturing and designing the greenest car factory in China.
The factory was conceived with the goal of achieving Gold status in the globally recognised LEED ratings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The LEED rating prescribes a holistic approach, which challenged the team to work exclusively with suppliers subscribing to an environmentally responsible approach. The factory applies LEAN manufacturing principles and aligns its model with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Polestar also chose its partners for the factory carefully, leading to outstanding collaborations with companies such as Google.
A particularly innovative aspect of Polestar 2 is that, for the first time, an innovative blockchain solution is used to trace cobalt to either the mine or the recycling plant. In Polestar 2, both recycled and virgin cobalt are used. The mining sites are inspected for sustainable practices and human rights. Through traceability, Polestar can ensure it is only cobalt coming from inspected sources or recycling plants that is ending up in the cars. 100% of the cobalt in Polestar 2 is traceable. Building on the success of the blockchain for cobalt, Polestar plans to continue to develop traceability regarding risk minerals and materials.
Coming back to the company’s drive to accelerate the EV revolution; Polestar claims its car can handle “every road surface imaginable” and a range of temperature and weather conditions.
Polestar 2 also presents innovative safety measures. It has eight airbags and requires no installation and no key. It has over-the-air updates which allow new software and apps to be downloaded to the car. The Android automotive system embedded into Polestar 2 also provides customers with Google Maps for navigation, the natural voice recognition of Google Assistant and the apps of the Google Play Store. This provides a solid and adaptable digital environment for apps and vehicle functions to coexist.
The car also signals to its owner when it needs service. They are then contacted by a service centre, which picks up the car and drops it off at a convenient time once serviced. Polestar can tap into its parent Volvo’s worldwide network of dealers and service centres.
The car has significant financial benefits for its users. For example, subsidies and bonuses are available for users of battery electric vehicles (BEV) and, in many countries, low emission vehicles, such as Polestar 2, are either tax exempt or qualify for the minimum tax rate. These cars represent a step-change in fleet operations by reduced service costs, low running costs due to charging instead of fuel, mileage cost reduction and fewer moving parts. Depreciation is also reduced as the resale value of EVs is stronger than conventional vehicles.
Since launch, Polestar 2 has grown to become a big player in the EV scene – despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. As of February 2021, there were about 4,600 Polestar 2 vehicles on the road in 10 markets.
edie’s judges said: “Polestar represents a hugely impressive approach to innovations that sees traceability used to improve social outcomes as well as reduce environmental impacts. Polestar 2 is an aspirational product made in a state-of-the-art factory with true innovation embedded at its core.
Are you our next winner?
After a tough and extraordinary year, edie's RSA-accredited Sustainability Leaders Awards are back for 2022, bigger and better than ever – celebrating the incredible people, projects and partnerships that are accelerating climate action and transforming business, for good.
Entries are now OPEN. The submission deadline for the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards is Friday 8 October 2021. The Awards is then set to take place as a live ceremony on the night of Wednesday 2 February 2022 at the Park Plaza London, Westminster.
Our 'Sustainability Leader of the Year' category is among the 23 categories to choose from. Make sure you get the recognition you, and your team, deserve. ENTER THE SUSTAINABILITY LEADERS AWARDS 2022 HERE.