LowCVP and Ricardo release report on life-cycle emissions


A new study shows the total environmental impact of different vehicle types, taking into consideration its entire life-cycle.

This new analysis by Ricardo for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) looks across a broad range of vehicle sectors and finds that the relative contribution of each vehicle life cycle stage is highly dependent on the vehicle type and powertrain technology, as well as what assumptions are made about a vehicle’s operational life, mileage and duty cycle.

Well-to-wheel CO2e emissions of current electric vehicles are already significantly lower (40-60%) as a proportion of full lifetime emissions than those of typical current passenger cars (70-85%) and this difference can increase as the electricity grid becomes increasingly decarbonised. However, if a race for bigger and bigger batteries is left unchecked, EVs doing low mileages could undermine some of the potential benefits
The environmental impacts associated with the production phase, in particular, for road vehicles will become increasingly important in the context of the full life cycle and, therefore, the focus of more policy attention as the UK and other governments around the world strive to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets in order to tackle climate change.
For larger, heavy duty trucks, the report finds that life cycle CO2e emissions are overwhelmingly from vehicle use (>95 per cent); unsurprising given the high utilisation and lifetime mileages of these types of vehicles.  In this sector using lower carbon fuels and energy sources will deliver the greatest carbon reductions in the near term.
For smaller vehicles, such as passenger cars and micro vehicles, there is much greater sensitivity in each life cycle stage; often more than 50% of the overall impact comes in the manufacturing stage.

Download the 'Understanding the life cycle GHG emissions for different vehicle types and powertrain technologies' below: