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Polestar’s new car is an electric SUV, but the goal of going carbon neutral feels a long way off

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The conventional SUV is an environmental offender. Research in 2019 showed that the vehicles de second largest cause of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade — even eclipsing behemoths like aviation and trucks. But Polestar is looking to cash in on the category by launching their third vehicle: Polestar 3. This is the company’s first-ever SUV – and it’s all-electric and backed by a serious sustainability belief. I was at the launch last week and got a closer look.

Sorry, but SUVs are popular

Let’s address the elephant in the room first. It’s an inconvenient truth for environmentalists, but SUV sales are on the rise. In 2021, SUV sales accounted for approximately 48% of the passenger car market in China. Also in Europe, car buyers are shifting from hatchbacks and sedans to SUVs 45.5% of the cars purchased in 2021. Of course, the US is king of this market, with vehicles representing 52.3% of sales.

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The reasons for this are diverse. Car use has increased during the pandemic as an alternative to public transport. Car companies are also going all-in on more expensive luxury cars to recoup the losses incurred during the delays caused by the silicon chip shortage.

Or, simply put, people Like it SUVs. As Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath told us: “You can get in and out easily, you get great views from the higher seats and you feel cool.” In response, Polestar is on a mission to create what they call ‘The SUV for the Electric Age’. And it takes SUV enthusiasts for the ride to a greener kind of vehicle.

The Polestar brand was launched in 2017 and is co-owned by Volvo Cars Group and Geely Holding. In addition to the obvious benefits of an electric vehicle, the company is aiming even higher and plans to bring the Pole star 0 — a carbon neutral car with no carbon footprint — by 2030.

This is a big task that goes well beyond electrification, and the Polestar 3 lays the groundwork. For example, aerodynamic efficiency increases through the front and rear wings to reduce drag. And of course, the greater the aerodynamic efficiency, the greater the range of the EV.

Track material transparency and score

The Polestar 3’s interior trim is stamped with text that will display the life cycle assessment of the vehicle’s carbon emissions once production begins – part of Polestar’s commitment to transparency. These CO₂ levels will decrease year after year, the company says. Customers I spoke to at launch liked this feature.

Polestar was the first car to use blockchain trace cobalt in its batteries. Head of Sustainability Frederika Klarén told us that this also applies to the purchase of nickel and lithium.

The company also goes all-in on material recycling and circular design, and strives for circular circularity. In other words, it wants to reuse car parts to to make car parts. But there is room for improvement. According to Head of Design, Maximilian Missoni, cars can be taken apart, but this is not always done with materials such as aluminum.

Although let’s be clear, this car is not a green martyr. It is a good looking car that would grab the attention of any SUV owner. As one Polestar owner told me, “You can’t blame someone for buying a €90,000 car.”