Life Cycle CO2e Assessment of low carbon cars 2020 - 2030

In 2013 the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) commissioned thinkstep to carry out a study called “Life Cycle Assessment of low carbon cars 2020 – 2030.” The aim of the study was to look at the performance of passenger cars from a life cycle approach, not limited to tail pipe emissions as the only measure of environmental performance.

This report, the “Life Cycle CO2e Assessment of Low Carbon Cars 2020-2030”, is the outcome of a study commissioned by the LowCVP following on from previous report “Preparing for a Life Cycle CO2 Measure” prepared for the LowCVP by Ricardo. Two of the main conclusions of the Ricardo study were that future CO2e metrics for passenger cars need to go beyond the tail-pipe measures and take into account whole life cycle CO2e emissions to more fully account for environmental impacts, especially when comparing different vehicle technologies. Additionally, embodied CO2e emissions associated with vehicle production and disposal become a more significant part of the lifecycle as the use phase decarbonises. This study leads on from the Ricardo study to improve understanding of lifecycle CO2e emissions of different vehicle technologies over the next two decades.

The objectives of this study are:

  • To estimate how total lifecycle CO2e emissions will change for different vehicle technologies in the future;
  • To estimate how the balance of CO2e emissions associated with individual lifecycle stages will vary for different technologies in the future; and
  • To assess the sensitivity of the study outputs to the choice of input assumptions and to determine those parameters having the most impact on the total lifecycle CO2e emissions for each vehicle technology.
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