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Going Green: Polestar embraces the shift to electric cars


Interest in electric vehicles has risen along with signs of climate change and petrol prices – here's how Polestar is embracing the shift.

Australia's electric vehicle (EV) market is set to boom, with data from the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) showing that sales of plug-in models tripled in 2021 compared to 2020.

At the start of 2022, EVs made up 2% of the market share for new cars. And a growing number of government incentives – including more public charging stations – is helping more people make the switch.

So far, the market in Australia has been dominated by Tesla, MG, Hyundai, Nissan and other well-known brands, according to the EVC.

Polestar is one of the newer brands in Australia. It launched here in 2021 but was established as a Swedish premium electric vehicle manufacturer in 2017. It operates in 25 global markets, with plans to reach 30 markets by the end of 2023. Its reputation overseas rivals household names here and so does its prices, with the Polestar 2 starting at $63,900.

To find out what it offers, we caught up with Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson.

Polestar Australia managing director Samantha Johnson smiling at a man getting the keys for a Polestar 2.

1. For people who haven't heard of Polestar before, where does sustainability fit into Polestar's business model? And how big of a role does it play in the development, design, decisions and other parts of the process?

Samantha Johnson, managing director of Polestar Australia.Sustainability is absolutely core to Polestar. It's ingrained in everything that we do. We're determined to improve the world that we live in and we use design and technology to build sustainability into our products. So, for example, in our future product, we're going to be using flax for our interiors, PET recycled bottles for our seats, recycled fishing nets and recycled cork for the mats. And in the frames for the Polestar 2, year-on-year we've had a 6% decrease in emissions over the lifecycle of the vehicle due to the more sustainable, lighter-weight aluminium that's used in the frame and in the battery casing.But also on the exterior of the vehicle, we actually do a lot to design aerodynamics into the vehicle. So it's not just about how you charge the vehicle and its capacity, but how can we make be more efficient out on the road?

We're always looking at how can we make the vehicle more sustainable, lighter, [with] better-sourced products. And we work with our suppliers … from a sustainable and ethical perspective.

We use blockchain technology and circularity to make sure that the products and materials that our suppliers are sourcing are both sustainably and ethically sourced. That's really important for us.

A Polestar 2 driving on a road in the Nullarbor.
2. Have there been any stand-out moments for you so far where there's a sense of inspiration in the work being done here and the impact it's had or can have?

Samantha Johnson, managing director of Polestar Australia.We've seen the interest in EVs really have a very steep shift upwards with all the talk now about [how climate change] is something that's not just a maybe. It's a definite – we've got to do something. And I think there are a lot of consumers now who were like, "Well, I'm not sure if my next car should be an EV"... Now it's just knowing, "My next car needs to be an EV. It will be an EV." It's not a question anymore. It's [also about] high fuel prices, further support by the government of EV policy and companies like ourselves, who are coming in and giving consumers other choices and really high-quality products where they can feel really good when they're driving the car.

3. You mentioned the cost of petrol, and the cost of living is on everyone's mind at the moment. I think access is probably a key blocker for people thinking about buying an EV in terms of supply of the cars and also the price point. Could you speak to those factors?

Samantha Johnson, managing director of Polestar Australia.I think the price points are evening out quite a bit. When you look at the high petrol prices and charging an EV, it's probably about a quarter to a third of the cost… even without using solar energy or anything else. It's getting cheaper and cheaper relative to petrol because the petrol prices are going north of $2. And I know a lot of people when they're talking about filling up their petrol car, they feel guilty driving a petrol car, but [they're also] saying, "I can't afford this much longer, it's too much."When you pair that up with being sustainable and being out the road with no noise pollution and no emissions, that's really a story for consumers. Why would you buy a petrol vehicle when you could buy an EV?

See how much you could save with an EV and other switches in Finder's Green Consumer Report 2022.

Polestar 2 cars in a showroom.

4. What tips or insights do you have for people considering an electric car for the first time? What should they look for, practically, with an EV?

Samantha Johnson, managing director of Polestar Australia.I think you look at the whole package. And, for example, the Polestar 2 comes with 5 years of servicing, warranty and roadside assistance. Also the service intervals – you're not going in every year to get a check-up. It's every 2 years [with a Polestar]. From an emissions perspective, we produce a life cycle assessment report each year on the Polestar to compare the emissions over its lifetime with an equivalent petrol vehicle. So even with energy off the grid and coal-fired power, it has less emissions than an equivalent petrol vehicle.If you do have renewable energy in your home or from a charging provider that uses renewable energy, then that's less than half of the emissions of a petrol car over the lifetime of the vehicle. So it's a huge difference in emissions.

It's really comparing all of those things to what you would have in a petrol vehicle.

Looking at the costs, there are future incentives out there that will come to market. And I think it is going to just always be getting better for EVs.

Looking for your next car? Check out Finder's electric car reviews to compare different options.

5. In the automotive industry in general, what are the key areas where you'd like to see sustainability improvements?

Samantha Johnson, managing director of Polestar Australia.I think for the industry, everyone needs to really… measure themselves and say, "What are we producing?" You know, all the manufacturing emissions. I'm still surprised that there are so many manufacturers out there that still have long-term manufacturing plans for fossil fuel vehicles. And that needs to really move over to EVs at a faster pace.

And that's why we put our methodology out there and promote others. We make sure that we have a voice in conversations.We're on the EVC as a board member and we're also a member of the Federal Chamber of Auto Industries (FCAI). We go and speak at different events and make sure that we're spreading the word and influencing others to really do something about climate change.

Want more info and tips for making greener choices? Check out the Finder Green homepage.

Image credits: Getty Images, Supplied (Polestar)

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