Electric mobility is being studied as a possible solution for reducing the environmental impact associated to the transportation sector. However, there is a huge ongoing debate among scholars and practitioners on the extent to which Electric Vehicles perform better in terms of greenhouse gases emissions against Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, and especially on the variables that affect such performance. To the best of our knowledge, most of the studies addressing the topic mainly focus only on some specific phases of a vehicle's life cycle, such as vehicle manufacturing and use, while comprehensive evaluations of the greenhouse gases emissions during a vehicle's life cycle are quite rare. Therefore, the paper aims to develop a comprehensive evaluation framework in order to estimate the environmental impact associated to Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, by adopting a Life Cycle Assessment approach. The evaluation framework is then adopted to estimate the environmental impact associated to Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles in four different scenarios, each one assuming different countries in which the phases of a vehicle's life cycle take place. Results show that CO2 emissions over the Electric Vehicle's life cycle are lower than the ones associated to a comparable Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle in all the scenarios analysed. Moreover, the analysis highlights: (i) the huge impact on a vehicle's CO2 emissions associated to the geographical location in which the upstream phases of the vehicle supply chain take place (mainly for Electric Vehicles); (ii) the primary impact played by the use phase on the Electric Vehicles CO2 emissions, followed by the vehicle and battery manufacturing ones. Both evidences reinforce the impact of the energy mix on the environmental performance of Electric Vehicles, as further confirmed by the sensitivity analysis. The paper contributes to the extant literature by reaffirming the better environmental performance of Electric Vehicles compared to Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles in terms of CO2 emissions over the whole life cycle, also providing policymakers with useful suggestions for the promotion of Electric Vehicles as a means to tackle environmental issues.

The environmental impact of electric vehicles: A novel life cycle-based evaluation framework and its applications to multi-country scenarios

Franzo, Simone;Nasca, A
2021-01-01

Abstract

Electric mobility is being studied as a possible solution for reducing the environmental impact associated to the transportation sector. However, there is a huge ongoing debate among scholars and practitioners on the extent to which Electric Vehicles perform better in terms of greenhouse gases emissions against Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, and especially on the variables that affect such performance. To the best of our knowledge, most of the studies addressing the topic mainly focus only on some specific phases of a vehicle's life cycle, such as vehicle manufacturing and use, while comprehensive evaluations of the greenhouse gases emissions during a vehicle's life cycle are quite rare. Therefore, the paper aims to develop a comprehensive evaluation framework in order to estimate the environmental impact associated to Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles, by adopting a Life Cycle Assessment approach. The evaluation framework is then adopted to estimate the environmental impact associated to Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles in four different scenarios, each one assuming different countries in which the phases of a vehicle's life cycle take place. Results show that CO2 emissions over the Electric Vehicle's life cycle are lower than the ones associated to a comparable Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle in all the scenarios analysed. Moreover, the analysis highlights: (i) the huge impact on a vehicle's CO2 emissions associated to the geographical location in which the upstream phases of the vehicle supply chain take place (mainly for Electric Vehicles); (ii) the primary impact played by the use phase on the Electric Vehicles CO2 emissions, followed by the vehicle and battery manufacturing ones. Both evidences reinforce the impact of the energy mix on the environmental performance of Electric Vehicles, as further confirmed by the sensitivity analysis. The paper contributes to the extant literature by reaffirming the better environmental performance of Electric Vehicles compared to Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles in terms of CO2 emissions over the whole life cycle, also providing policymakers with useful suggestions for the promotion of Electric Vehicles as a means to tackle environmental issues.
2021
Electric vehicles
Environmental impact
Life cycle assessment
Internal combustion engine vehicles
CO2 emissions
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1207835
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