Are Most Electric Car Makers Ignoring A Number More Important Than Range?
Electric vehicle manufacturers often tout the impressive range of their vehicles, with companies like Hyundai and Lucid emphasizing the distance their electric cars can travel on a single charge. A substantial range is undoubtedly a critical feature, as an electric vehicle with lackluster battery performance serves little purpose in the mass market.
Nevertheless, there is a metric that many automakers tend to overlook—the genuine environmental impact of producing electric vehicles. Even if these vehicles do not emit pollutants into the atmosphere during operation, their manufacturing processes often generate significant emissions. These emissions are commonly referred to as a company’s “carbon footprint” or “carbon impact,” typically quantified in terms of tons of carbon dioxide.
However, Polestar is striving to change this narrative. The company recently announced that its upcoming Polestar 4 sedan/SUV hybrid will boast the lowest carbon footprint within its lineup, which currently comprises only three vehicles. According to Polestar’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the base model Polestar 4 is responsible for emitting 19.4 tons of carbon dioxide during its production cycle. LCAs, published since 2020, take into account various factors throughout a car’s lifecycle, spanning from the supply chain to manufacturing and recycling, ultimately providing a comprehensive assessment of the vehicle’s climate impact.
Polestar attributes its ability to reduce carbon emissions to the use of cleaner energy sources in the production of its vehicles. For instance, the company’s Hangzhou Bay factory in China relies on hydroelectric and solar power, as well as recycled materials when constructing their EVs.
While extended range and convenient charging solutions are vital for driving mass market adoption of electric vehicles, their environmental impact is undeniably one of the most critical aspects. In fact, it’s a central tenet of the electric vehicle concept.
Both automakers and consumers should recognize the significance of environmentally sustainable transportation. An electric vehicle’s carbon footprint generated during its production could potentially offset the benefits of a zero-emission drivetrain when it’s on the road. Thus, automakers ought to follow Polestar’s lead by publicly disclosing the environmental impact of each of their electric vehicles.
However, the challenge lies in whether consumers will prioritize this environmental impact in their decision-making process. Currently, the primary concerns are the price and range of electric vehicles. To shift the focus to environmental considerations, it would likely require a concerted effort from automakers and regulators to emphasize and address this metric.