Writer & consultant

Car Design News

Car Design News is the world’s leading source of information, advice and insight for car designers worldwide. I have been a contributor to its website and associated magazines, books, awards and conferences since 2008. I specialise in news, reviews and interviews, like this one with Polestar’s head of design Max Missoni, pictured and with Q&A excerpt below…
“Car Design News is the world’s leading source of information, advice and insight for car designers worldwide”

Exclusive interview: Max Missoni, Polestar

After a panel discussion on ‘Designing Towards Zero’ in London’s new Design District in the south-east of the city, Car Design News persuaded Polestar’s head of design Max Missoni to go ‘up on the roof’ for an exclusive chat to discuss the brand’s imminent future products, ambitious sustainability goals and its new relationship with Volvo…

CDN: What are your personal feelings about how we should respond to the urgent climate challenge? 

MM: As a race, we have the capacity to innovate our way out of problems, if we’re clever – which we are – and that should be our aim. Maybe it’s necessary to cut down on certain things to reach short-term goals, but it can’t be the solution and I don’t think it will be. It’s like the oil crisis in the 1970s, where suddenly the weirdest things happened, but they didn’t stay. I think we’ll see the same thing now. We have to plan a bit more long-term.

Which firms – from any industry – do you think have done a credible job in terms of circularity and sustainability?

Companies like Patagonia take it seriously and it’s believable. But their product is so much less complex. We can be inspired by how they do it, but you pretty quickly realise that the processes and requirements in our products are so different. It’s a much longer and more difficult path for us. To have less impact in terms of CO2, it’s crucial to get to a point where components can be exchanged easily. Many bits and pieces in a car today are shredded – and not only interior ones. There are some magnets and other parts which, in a very complex process we can pull the valuable materials out of, but it’s hard with bonded components, things that are glued together. It’s a big topic for the whole industry.   

…Any other inspirational companies?

I know that IKEA is planning to be circular by 2030. That is impressive considering their range of products, there are tens of thousands of them.

How hard is it for car companies to be truly circular and sustainable?

In the car space we are aware this is needed but only a few brands have been as transparent as we are now. We shocked people when we did a lifecycle assessment of the Polestar 2 and said, ‘Yes, an electric car does emit more CO2 in the “cradle-to-gate” scenario than a combustion car, that is the truth.’ However afterwards, in usage, depending on the energy mix that provides the electricity, the scenario is better. Only an electric car can reach zero, in a combustion car you can’t. So we know we are on the right track. We just need to fix some of the issues. Looking back at the traditional car designer role – a figurehead of how a product looks and feels – this new scenario has really widened our approach and responsibility.

Photos: Andy Morgan