Monday, June 13, 2011

Assessing the Environmental Impact of Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Production

Although electric and hybrid cars create more carbon emissions during their production than standard vehicles, they are still greener overall. This is one of the findings in a report prepared by Ricardo1for, in collaboration with the membership of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership that includes major vehicle manufacturers and oil companies.

The increased emissions created during the production of electric and hybrid vehicles is further compounded by disposal issues. However, overall electric and hybrid vehicles still have lower carbon footprints than fossil fuel powered vehicles.


“This work dispels the myth that low carbon vehicles simply displace emissions from the exhaust to other sources. However, it does highlight the need to look at reducing carbon emissions from vehicles throughout their lifecycle,” said Greg Archer, LowCVP Managing Director.

A 2008 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, which include emissions from both manufacturing and operating a vehicle, are 32 percent less from plug-in hybrids than from gasoline-powered cars.

Approximately three quarters of the carbon created in production is attributable to the steel used in vehicles. In an electric vehicle almost half (43%) of the carbon created in production arises from the battery. To reduce carbon in vehicle production we need low weight, low carbon alternatives for steel and batteries.

Andy Carroll, Managing director for Eurotax Glass’s, said that the industry will see an evolution towards learning how to estimate the residual value impact of improved technologies and batteries as well as end of life disposal.

Although calculating whole life carbon emissions is complex, it is essential for comprehensive vehicle comparisons.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Assessing the Environmental Impact of Operating Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

1 comment:

Stanley Zabecki said...

Less greenhouse emissions during manufacturing. But what about the other super toxic chemicals emitted into the earth? We are so tunnel focused on carbon we forget about the other more deadly stuff.