We had the pleasure of Samantha Johnson (Managing Director of Polestar Automotive Australia), joining the first episode of Legally Consumed – the consumer products podcast. Polestar is a new player in the Australian automotive industry. Polestar started as a racing team but the Polestar brand has evolved into an electric vehicles (EV) company to help drive a more sustainable future.
In this episode of Legally Consumed, Samantha delves into the importance of cohesive and nationalised legislation to accelerate the growth of sustainable mobility and address consumer concerns. She also touches on Polestar’s focus on climate neutrality and the circularity of materials.
Polestar’s determination to improve electric mobility using design and technology is powered by its focus on sustainability and incorporating sustainability into all aspects of the car. Climate neutrality and circularity are two of the drivers of sustainability within the organisation with big aspirations for the future. The company aims to have a climate neutral vehicle by 2030 and as an organisation, have zero emissions by 2030 with future targets to be 100% climate neutral by 2040 in all of their activities. Samantha talks about how Polestar is well on its way to achieving these goals, citing the comparison between the carbon footprint of Polestar’s EVs to traditional petrol powered vehicles, the EVs, when utilising renewable energy, reduced emissions by more than 50% compared to petrol engines.
While electrification is central to Polestar’s sustainable strategy, she mentions the concerted efforts that the brand is focusing towards circularity of resources. The products are manufactured using components that can be repurposed as much as possible so that they can go back through the new car manufacturing process without creating a new carbon footprint. Samantha also talks about how the EVs now and in the future are being made using natural products as opposed to traditional plastic and other manmade materials. From talking to Samantha, it is clear that there is a lot of thought put into all the aspects of the vehicles from design to production that considers how they can best incorporate sustainability.
Barriers to adoption of EVs
When comparing Australia’s adoption of EVs to other countries, EVs currently make up only 3.39% of new cars sold while EVs represent over 14% of new cars sold in the UK and more than 80% in Norway. While the benefits of EVs including reduced carbon emissions are well known, consumers are still skeptical and have reservations about purchasing these vehicles. The first issue that inhibits consumers from buying EVs is the concern regarding charging stations. While charging stations are being put online and the number of charging stations is expanding quite rapidly, the lack of rural charging stations due to energy infrastructure remains an issue. Samantha highlights the costs of developing that infrastructure versus the business case for doing it as a barrier that the industry will have to overcome.
A second issue that prevents consumers from choosing an EV over a petrol or diesel vehicle is the upfront cost of purchasing the EV. A study of Australian drivers revealed that almost 70% believed that the purchase price of EVs is the main barrier to adoption. The higher initial upfront price tag can be attributed to the high cost of producing the batteries and money spent on research and development. Whilst delving into this issue, she cites the removal of the fringe benefits tax on EVs as a positive first step in creating policies to provide road users with benefits for making the transition to EVs.
Government Policies + EVs
While assessing the current situation, Samantha highlights the need for a National Electric Vehicle strategy and cohesive policies to promote and accelerate the growth of the EV industry.
Polestar Australia, other auto industry groups and individuals provided input to the government regarding the policies that are needed to provide more sustainable mobility. In the episode, our guest explains that EV policies in Australia started with state governments providing different incentives in place, be it rebates or stamp duty, making it confusing for both producers and consumers of EVs. Adopting a nationwide strategy could help to increase both the supply and demand in the EV market.
Samantha also mentions the need to put fuel efficiency standards in place for EV suppliers as Australia is one of the few countries without these regulations. She points out that if you are a car manufacturer and you send a batch of cars to the UK that exceed the emissions threshold, the manufacturer will have to pay up to $15,000 per car. As Australia doesn’t have these standards, manufacturers will be more likely to send their largest CO2 emitting cars to Australia which could further damage our environment. The government needs to implement better environmental policies when it comes to motor vehicles and the National Electric Vehicle is a good place to start promoting sustainability and drive EV sales.
Get in touch
To find out more about Samantha Johnson, Polestar and EVs, tune into our podcast, Legally Consumed where we explore everything consumer products related. Keep up to date with new episodes of our podcast by following us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you choose to listen in from.