Veerle's Sidenotes

A collection of thoughts on subjects of my interest.

December 05 2023

Polestar 2

The conclusion of my Polestar 2 lease is approaching fast. Reflecting on the past three years of driving electric, I ponder the overall experience. What has ownership been like, and do I plan to retain it?

EV Driving

I've been immersed in the world of electric driving for even longer if we take my previous Volvo V60 T8 into account. However, that car introduced some *real* range anxiety, boasting only a 42 km all-electric range in optimal conditions. In a peculiar incident, the car even declined to operate in all-electric mode, displaying a warning on the dashboard: "Aged fuel. Start engine to consume fuel." I had to deplete the fuel reservoir before I could resume electric driving. Nevertheless, let's return to the discussion about the Polestar and the rationale behind choosing this car.

Why Polestar?

The primary factor influencing my decision was the company itself, particularly its leadership by a designer. What sealed the deal for me was the way it positions itself in the market, emphasizing transparent and open communication about its climate ambitions. The second compelling reason was its aesthetic appeal. The moment I saw the announcement, I was convinced that this would be our next car. All of this was decided well before I even had the chance to take it for a test drive.

How Was the Ownership Experience?

My initial experience behind the wheel was at a Polestar event in Kortrijk, and fortunately, it exceeded all expectations. This car is truly fantastic to drive, boasting excellent build quality. It's a Magnesium variant equipped with a dual motor, delivering 300 kW / 408 hp. The acceleration is impressively fast, taking just 4.7 seconds to reach 100 km/h. The Polestar 2 cabin is quiet, especially so on winter tires. Pilot Assist works great and is trustworthy. Geert even uses it on all roads. It's the type of car that you eagerly anticipate driving every time you step into it.

The ownership experience had its share of hiccups, particularly in the initial stages. The TCAM Module exhibited erratic behavior, leading to an unstable internet connection and, at times, a complete lack of data—quite problematic given the car's reliance on it. Fortunately, the module was replaced a couple of times, all covered under warranty. The resolution to these issues came when there was an improvement in network coverage, ultimately addressing the connectivity issues.

I encountered one significant problem when the car abruptly refused to function, leaving me stranded in the middle of an intersection. Subsequently, the car had to be towed to the garage, where it was determined that the issue lay with the printed circuit board. In each of these instances, I was provided with a replacement car. My trust in the brand remained steadfast, largely owing to the exceptional service and customer support from ACG Polestar Ghent. The service there is truly top-notch, with incredibly helpful staff. I never experienced frustration when reaching out or visiting, thanks to Isabel Vanhulle and her excellent team! They now also have Polestar spaces.

Overal the experience these past 3 years has been lovely with some room for improvement on the phone part. Just remember that I was an early adopter.


Let's delve into the software, a crucial aspect of the ownership experience. The system operates on Android Automotive, and the current state of the car is vastly different from its 2020 counterpart. Over time, I've received numerous 'over the air updates' that have not only refined the car but also introduced new features. The most significant improvement has been the enhanced efficiency of the car, achieved through meticulous tuning of the motors. In the early stages of ownership, most of my rides consumed 25 kWh/100 km or more, considering the car's 19" tires. Nowadays, it's not uncommon for me to achieve 17 kWh/100 km, marking a notable improvement in overall efficiency throughout my ownership. Overal efficiency the last 5000km has been around 19 kWh/100 km.

Polestar homescreen on Android Automotive.

Polestar homescreen on Android Automotive.

Another crucial aspect of owning an electric vehicle is the software that manages predictions about your range when inputting a destination into the navigation system. The mapping itself is powered by Google, ensuring a top-tier experience. The battery management is notably reliable, consistently providing slightly conservative estimates, usually a few percentage points below the actual capacity. I have complete trust in the system and am comfortable pushing the charge level to around 10% or even lower.

In cases where the remaining charge isn't sufficient to reach the destination, the car suggests suitable charging stops, providing information on available stalls and the required charging time. These are insights gained through experience. Those who express concerns about spending two hours charging likely haven't had much EV experience. Charging the car to 100% is uncommon because the process slows down significantly from 80% onwards. Personally, I typically charge to 60%, 70%, or 80%, depending on the destination.

With an EV, your approach to travel planning evolves. Stops align with natural breaks for activities like using the restroom, relaxing, eating, or grabbing a drink. Most of the time, you end up needing to hurry to prevent overcharging. It's surprising how quickly 30 minutes pass, and the gained range is often more than enough.

Charging destination to Polestar Sweden.

Charging destination to Polestar Sweden.

The Phone Application

One aspect that didn't quite meet expectations was the phone application. Its functionality was severely limited, often leading to frustrating experiences. For instance, when the car was charging in the village on a discounted tariff, attempting to check the remaining charging time resulted in the app failing to refresh correctly. It displayed inaccurate charge levels or timed out. No way to get a notification when charging was done. Another instance was with pre-conditioning the car, where clicking would lead to multiple timeouts before actually working. After nearly three years, they've finally launched version 4 of the app recently, a complete rebuild that now operates seamlessly and as anticipated. It's almost amusing when they announce the release of a phone that seems so unnecessary and doesn't align with their environmental goals when they need that long to get an app running as it should. We don’t need more, we need less!

Version 4 homescreen of the iPhone application.

Version 4 homescreen of the iPhone application.

Will I Stay with Polestar?

I had hoped for the Polestar 4 to be a smaller car, but unfortunately, that's not the case. In my sincere opinion, Polestar's inclination towards larger cars seems somewhat at odds with their environmental aspirations. I understand that people love BIG SUV’s but sometimes you have to be brave and be a leader and steer people in a different direction with a well thought out offering. So no I not will extend my lease.

I'm returning to Volvo! My upcoming car will be an EX30—the smallest Volvo yet and at an affordable price. Similar to my approach with the Polestar 2, I placed the order without seeing it in person or test driving it. It should be in my hands by April. Will test drive it in January.

November 13 2023
Home & Living

Air quality CO2 PPM's

The underestimated invisible item that is so important to our overal heath. Good ventilation has been undervalued for years. Honestly, before the pandemic, the concepts of CO2 and PPM were a mystery to me. I didn't pay much attention, except for the occasional practice of ventilating rooms by opening windows for about 20 minutes each day, albeit without a clear understanding of CO2.

What Is It?

CO2 stands for carbon dioxide and levels are measured in PPM (Parts Per Million). Before I started measuring I had no idea that air quality in closed spaces deteriorates very quickly because contaminated air is barely noticeable. The tighter your house is sealed, the quicker the air quality tends to decline. It could be argued that an older, more drafty house benefits from natural ventilation. I use to live in such a house, very costly to heat in winter and overheated in summer. 

How Do You Know?

The initial step is acknowledging the presence of CO2 in our living spaces. For example by using measuring equipment such as the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach or the Smart Home Weather Station, it is possible to map CO2 and take action to prevent high CO2 concentrations. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that a room should be ventilated at least twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening. That's what I attempted, but frankly, it falls short. Why? Well, it hinges on the wind intensity and the speed at which fresh air circulates. In high winds, you can sustain a satisfactory level for longer, but in calm conditions, the space swiftly reverts to an undesirable level. 'Quickly' here refers to a matter of hours with two persons occupying the room, contingent on how well-sealed your house is. Perhaps you've observed a distinct odor in certain houses or rooms, that's the result of stagnant air. I particularly experienced this in my bedroom after a night's sleep, I admit, feeling somewhat embarrassed. I'm pretty sure that ppm levels reached 2000 or more.

The Smart Home Weather Station also works with Apple Home.

The Smart Home Weather Station also works with Apple Home.

Is CO2 Dangerous?

Yes and no, CO2 in itself is harmless or, as scientists say, inert, non-flammable and non-toxic. Yet, an elevated concentration of CO2 within a room disrupts the absorption of oxygen in our bodies, and this occurrence is undesirable. As this displacement happens, the body transitions to reduced energy consumption throughout the day, resulting in specific issues like fatigue, headaches, diminished concentration and worsening of allergies (hay fever, food allergy, etc.). In my case you can also add a stuffy nose to the previous list. Another indicator of elevated CO2 levels often manifest itself as sleep issues, with notable symptoms such as waking up feeling restless, experiencing poor sleep quality, fatigue, and headaches. Thanks to the installation of a ventilation system, I can confidently attest that the overall living comfort has significantly improved. I no longer endure frequent headaches, a fatigue feeling in the afternoon or a stuffy nose, and, best of all, my sleep pattern has seen a remarkable improvement. Details about the system, the reasons behind its selection, and the steps I took will be addressed in a subsequent article.

The governmental department (FOD Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment) in Belgium says if the CO2 concentration is lower than 900 ppm (or 500 ppm above the outside concentration), we consider the room to be well ventilated.)

CO2 Meter Card

The CO2 level allows you to map the degree of ventilation. On the CO2 meter card below you will gain a better insight into the PPM values and what these values mean.

Air quality CO2 PPM's

Is It *the* CO2?

Yes it is the same CO2 that scientists are worried about. Annually, human activities release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than natural processes can absorb, leading to a progressive increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere is primarily attributed to human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and deforestation. These activities release large amounts of CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

As an illustration, when I was born, the atmospheric CO2 concentration stood at 324 ppm. At the start of this year, a highly reliable measuring station in Hawaii recorded 415 ppm. This station has diligently measured CO2 concentrations since 1957. In the span of just my lifetime, there has been an increase of 91 ppm. Examining the data reveals a substantial spike since the industrial era (pre-1800s), with estimates placing it at around 280 parts per million (PPM) during that period. We know this thanks to ice core data. Ice cores extracted from glaciers and polar ice caps preserve air bubbles that contain samples of the atmosphere from different periods.

Air quality CO2 PPM's

You can read more about the 'Mauna Loa Observatory' in Hawaii at 'ask NASA climate'. Next up I'll talk about another invisible home intruder 'air pollution' and what you can do about it.

October 19 2023

Get Outside

Engaging in outdoor activities offers numerous benefits, a consensus among scientists worldwide. Stepping away from your desk, moving, inhaling fresh air, and soaking in natural daylight provide multiple advantages for both your body and mind.

Get Outside

I have no idea about figures worldwide but in Flanders for example 6 in 10 people spend less than 15 minutes outside every day. For those who do not have to be outside for work, that number increases to 8 out of 10! Within the group of indoor workers, 7 out of 10 feel a sense of longing for the outdoors during their workdays. Nonetheless, they do express their commitment to compensating for this by engaging in additional outdoor activities over the weekends.

Nature as a Healing Prescription

What if your doctor prescribed nature instead of medication? Research indicates (detailed look at The Lancet) that a stroll in the park, a trek through the woods, or a weekend getaway in nature can significantly reduce stress levels and blood pressure, lower the risk of conditions like asthma, allergies, and cardiovascular disease, and enhance your mental well-being. For instance, doctors in the Shetland Islands have been recommending beach visits as a therapeutic remedy for both physical and mental ailments.

So, whether it's sunny or raining, ensure you get your nature fix. Even in inclement weather, the wonders of nature can still work their magic.

What's the Ideal Walking Time?

Devoting just two hours a week to outdoor activities can already make a positive impact on your health. A 2019 British study revealed that individuals spending 2 or more hours in natural settings each week enjoy better health and enhanced mental resilience. To boost your health, a brief half-hour daily stroll in the open air is more than sufficient.

Light, Fresh Air, and Physical Activity

Taking a daily 30-minute walk accomplishes three beneficial objectives simultaneously: it exposes you to natural light, provides a breath of fresh air, and ensures you get some physical exercise. Why is daylight so crucial? Your body requires a daily dose of it to regulate its biological clock effectively.

The outdoor air you inhale during a brief walk is also vital for your overall well-being. It contributes to maintaining healthy airways, reducing stress, regulating blood pressure and heart rate, and enhancing your mood. Moreover, walking serves as a valuable form of exercise in your daily routine. Research has demonstrated that walking enhances cognitive functions, as it allows your brain the necessary space to process information and generate new ideas/inspiration. This physical activity also triggers the release of endorphins in your body, promoting a sense of well-being, while benefiting your circulation, muscles, and joints.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting

For individuals with desk-bound occupations, it's advisable to break up prolonged periods of sitting by taking brief breaks every half hour, in addition to your daily walk. This practice provides an added health benefit.  This is one of the reasons I have such an affection for my Apple Watch. The device reminds me to stand up every hour and keeps me motivated to complete all those activity rings daily.