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Vehicle Life Cycle

Today’s legislation focusses only on the tailpipe emissions during the on-road use phase, with no regard for the energy consumption or emissions during the manufacture of the vehicle; the provision of the fuel (or electricity); or, the end-of-life recycling. The full environmental impact of electric vehicles must include the additional energy needed to manufacture the batteries and the emissions associated with the generation and provision of the electricity used to charge the batteries.

For a typical mid-size vehicle, battery manufacturing adds 15% to the CO2 emissions associated with vehicle manufacture and assembly. For a full-size vehicle, the larger battery pack can add 60-70% to the vehicle CO2 emissions. Recent life cycle studies [1-3] indicate that the total life cycle CO2 of diesel vehicles and electric vehicles is not significantly different, and that electric vehicles can often have higher life cycle CO2 emissions.

Life cycle analysis conducted by IAV GmbH, Germany, based on a 200,000 km vehicle lifespan [1]

Life cycle analysis conducted by IAV GmbH, Germany, based on a 200,000 km vehicle lifespan [1]

Life cycle analysis conducted by FEV GmbH, Germany, based on a 170,000 km vehicle lifespan [3]

Life cycle analysis conducted by FEV GmbH, Germany, based on a 170,000 km vehicle lifespan [3]

Life cycle analysis conducted by Wingas GmbH and Volkswagen, Germany, based on a 200,000 km vehicle lifespan [2]

Life cycle analysis conducted by Wingas GmbH and Volkswagen, Germany, based on a 200,000 km vehicle lifespan [2]

The generation of electricity from fossil fuels emits CO2, NOx, particulates and toxins. Life cycle studies show that a conversion to electric vehicles may not result in an improvement of public health [4]

The generation of electricity from fossil fuels emits CO2, NOx, particulates and toxins. Life cycle studies show that a conversion to electric vehicles may not result in an improvement of public health [4]

The impact of the electrical energy source on the environmental friendliness of battery vehicles is also consider the effect of the life cycle emissions on mortality rates. The majority of the electric power supply in the main car-buying regions of continental Europe, China, India and the United States is derived from fossil fuels. The conversion of these fuels to electricity emits CO2, NOx, particulates and toxins, including lead and mercury. A 2014 University of Minnesota study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that, if 10% of the vehicle miles travelled in the US in 2020 were driven by diesel cars, 870 deaths would be incurred due to air quality. However, if 10% of the vehicle miles travelled in the US in 2020 were driven by battery electric vehicles, powered by the 2020 national grid, 1,610 deaths would be incurred due to air quality. SinterCast encourages a holistic approach to legislation, considering life cycle emissions and favouring vehicles that provide the best overall contribution to society.

References

[1] C. Severin, et al. IAV GmbH: Potential of highly integrated exhaust gas aftertreatment for future passenger car diesel engines. 38th Internal Vienna Motor Symposium, 27-28 April 2017

[2] L. Möhring, et al. Wingas GmbH: CNG mobility – scalable, affordable and readily available solution for environmental and climate challenges. 38thInternal Vienna Motor Symposium, 27-28 April 2017

[3] C. Schernus, et al. FEV GmbH. Zero CO2 powertrains in comparison of tank-to-wheel and well-to-wheel balance. 29th International AVL Engine and Environment Conference, 1-2 June 2017

[4] Tessum et al. University of Minnesota: Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 30 December 2014