Volvo's spin-off electric brand Polestar has announced plans to develop "the first truly climate neutral car" by the end of the decade.
Cleverly dubbed the Polestar 0 – following on from Polestar's 1, 2 and 3 models – the project aims to eliminate CO2 emissions entirely from the vehicle production process, rather than simply offsetting carbon emissions by planting trees or through other means – the latter approach adopted by carmakers such as Volkswagen.
The brand quotes experts' beliefs that simply offsetting emissions is not sustainable long term – with Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath going as far to call it a "cop-out" – as newly-created forests can be logged, destroyed by bushfires or "altered" by climate change.
"By pushing ourselves to create a completely climate-neutral car, we are forced to reach beyond what is possible today. We will have to question everything, innovate and look to exponential technologies as we design towards zero," said Ingenlath.
"We’re electric, so we don’t have to worry about combustion engines producing toxic emissions – but that doesn’t mean our job is done. We will now work to eradicate all emissions stemming from production," adds Fredrika Klarén, Polestar’s Head of Sustainability.
"Now is a historic and exciting time for car makers, an opportunity to seize the moment, do better and dare to build the dream of climate-neutral, circular and beautiful cars.”
Polestar promises to apply "sustainability declarations" to all future models, by disclosing carbon footprint and traced 'risk' materials through labels on the brand's website and in its showrooms, known as Polestar Spaces.
"Today, Polestar 2 leaves the factory gates with a carbon footprint. In 2030 we want to present a car that does not,” said Ingenlath.
It's unclear whether the Polestar 0 project will spawn one specific carbon-neutral vehicle, or rather will see its entire line-up built without the emission of CO2 by 2030.
Eliminating CO2 emissions entirely from automotive production could solve one of the common criticisms directed towards electric vehicles, that the shipping and raw material extraction needed to manufacture batteries and electric motors means the medium-term environmental impact of EVs is not too dissimilar from that of a petrol vehicle.