Polestar Wants You to Know Where Its EV Battery Materials Come From | Tech


COPENHAGEN–One of the features that Polestar hopes will get the attention of potential car customers isn’t anywhere on the inside or outside of its luxury electric vehicles. Instead, its a series of data reports on its website.

The Gothenburg, Sweden-based automaker (set up as a joint venture between Volvo and Volvo’s Chinese parent firm Geely) has leaned into transparency about its manufacturing and operations as one way to distinguish itself from other EV makers.

“One of the most common questions we get from customers is around sustainability,” said Lisa Bolin, climate lead at Polestar, in an interview at the TechBBQ conference here after she had spoken on a panel about the automaker’s transparency efforts.

In May 2021, the company inked a partnership with Circulor, a London firm that had already been using its blockchain-based system to trace cobalt supplies for Polestar’s batteries, to track more of the components going into its vehicles and also tally the carbon-dioxide emissions generated along that entire supply chain.

Tracing raw materials back to mines is not an easy task and risks revealing ugly truths about how labor rights and environmental protection are neglected in countries that happen to hold most of the world’s resources of these minerals, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Some of the raw materials that we source, they are not available from too many places in the world,” Bolin said. “Tracing, auditing and all of this is costly.”

Seated across a table from Bolin, Circulor chief external affairs officer Ellen Carey offered a high-level overview of how that firm goes about that task, starting at individual mines.

“It’s multiple inputs,” Carey said, ranging from “very precise geolocation” to verifying exact delivery times and weights, that allow Circulor to build a “digital twin” model of each shipment and give it confidence that people haven’t tried to cook the books.

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