Although it has now been established that the CO2 footprint of an electric car is smaller than that of a comparable fuel vehicle, there are still plenty of skeptics.

The car industry sees that too.

The Polestar brand is therefore committed to greater transparency in a naturally fairly closed sector. spoke with Fredrika Klarén, responsible for sustainability at Polestar, and took a look behind the scenes at Audi.

In April this year, the international and independent NGO Transport & Environment (TE) presented a report showing that fully electric cars are cleaner than fuel cars at all times.

The calculation included the impact of everything involved in the production and assembly of battery packs.

This also includes mining for substances such as cobalt and lithium, which are included in the battery pack.

In addition, electricity production was taken into account.

Even in countries where coal-fired power stations are still predominantly used, an electric car emits less CO2 during its lifespan, it was concluded.

Yet not everyone agrees with this conclusion.

"We want to enter into dialogue with our customers, in order to make the climate impact of electric cars clear to them," says Klarén.

"There are still points for attention in this respect. The automotive industry, for example, does not have a good reputation when it comes to transparency. We want to change that."

Fredrika Klarén wants to play a pioneering role with Polestar in the process of making the automotive industry more open.

(Photo: Polestar)

'Manufacturers used to keep information to themselves'

Klarén refers to the so-called lifecycle assessment (LCA), or an analysis of the total environmental impact of a product or process.

In the case of vehicles, this is from raw material extraction to scrapping and recycling.

"Customers are often simply presented with a number, but no information about the methodology. For example, consumers cannot compare the CO2 footprint of their vehicle with that of other models, because it is not always clear how this calculation was made," explains Clear out.

"There are opportunities for the car industry, which by nature is very closed. Everyone is used to keeping their data and information hidden from the competition. As a sector, we must ensure that we arrive at a universal method, so that we can do more. can reach people with information about the carbon footprint. "

'Putting resources in the hands of customers'

Klarén recognizes that not everyone is convinced of the green image of electric vehicles, but also thinks that more transparency can be a first step to at least open the eyes of this group.

Because Polestar is a young brand and therefore does not have to carry so much baggage from the past, it can play a pioneering role in this area, according to Klarén.

"The traditional brands often wait for the call for information from customers to reach them instead of the other way around. They are still geared to ensuring that consumers are only concerned with the price of the vehicle," says Klarén, who thinks it is important the involve the customer in the conversation as much as possible.

"If you educate consumers, as it were, you can achieve so much more CO2 profit. There is still too little attention for the use phase of an electric car. Someone has to tell the customer that if you charge with green electricity at a charging point , this reduces a total environmental impact even further. "

In other words, according to Klarén, manufacturers should give their customers the means to start the conversation about sustainability at the kitchen table or in the neighbour's garden.


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'Not easy to involve the entire supply chain'

That traditional manufacturers are indeed a bit more reserved, became clear from a digital workshop at Audi.

When asked about transparency regarding the total environmental impact, the brand refers you to the LCAs on the website, which they believe are compiled on the basis of international standards.

Audi does indicate that it wants to ensure that this information can be understood by consumers.

That does not mean that sustainability is not serious about the German brand.

Transparency is also of paramount importance, although Audi immediately puts a comment.

"It's not easy to involve the entire supply chain. The responsibility for transparency is shared and we need to work with our suppliers on that."

Audi wants to make increasing use of artificial intelligence in order to get everyone on the same page.

The brand did not shy away from the question whether Audi has an image problem in terms of sustainability and transparency due to the diesel scandal and the application of cheating software.

"The diesel scandal accelerated everything, sustainability really became a priority. The environment was of course already important, but its relevance has definitely increased since then."

The brand is currently under pressure to make all its factories climate neutral.

This has already been achieved in Belgium and Hungary.

The Audi factory in Brussels, where the electric e-tron comes off the production line, operates climate-neutral.

(Photo: AFP)