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LIFE CYCLE EMISSIONS OF ELECTRIC VS. COMBUSTION ENGINE VEHICLES



As we drive into the future, it's clear that the way we travel is shifting gears. One of the most pressing debates in the automotive world revolves around the carbon emissions of different types of vehicles across their entire life cycle. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), and Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles present unique environmental footprints that consider three critical stages: production, usage, and disposal. Here's how these vehicles stack up.


Production Phase


Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)

Producing BEVs does have a substantial carbon footprint, primarily due to the energy-intensive process of manufacturing the batteries. A typical BEV produces about 30% more CO2 emissions during its production compared to an ICE vehicle.


Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

HEVs, with smaller batteries than BEVs and an accompanying internal combustion engine, have a higher carbon footprint than ICE vehicles in production, but it is lower than BEVs.


Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicles

ICE vehicles have the least carbon footprint during production due to their simpler, well-established manufacturing processes.


Usage Phase

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)

Once they hit the road, BEVs really shine. These vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions. The overall CO2 emissions depend on the source of the electricity. In regions with a high share of renewables, BEVs can significantly reduce carbon emissions compared to ICE vehicles.


Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

HEVs produce lower emissions than ICE vehicles but more than BEVs. They achieve better fuel efficiency by using both a combustion engine and an electric motor, leading to less fuel consumption and lower emissions.


Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicles

During the usage phase, ICE vehicles produce the highest emissions due to their reliance on fossil fuels. CO2 is released every time these vehicles are driven.


Disposal Phase

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) & Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

The disposal of batteries from BEVs and HEVs can be energy-intensive and poses environmental concerns if not managed properly. However, there are increasingly effective recycling programs to address these issues.


Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicles

ICE vehicles, while having fewer concerns related to battery disposal, still present environmental hazards due to the disposal of parts and fluids.


When considering the entire life cycle, BEVs and HEVs offer a considerable reduction in carbon emissions compared to ICE vehicles, especially during the usage phase. The potential environmental impact of battery production and disposal is a challenge being met with innovative recycling programs and the development of more sustainable battery technologies.


Transitioning to electrically-powered transportation represents an essential step towards a more sustainable future. It's not just about comparing tailpipe emissions. It's about looking at the whole picture and realizing that, even with their upfront emissions during production, BEVs and HEVs have a significantly smaller carbon footprint over their lifetime.


Thus, as we pave the way towards cleaner transportation, electric vehicles serve as our most promising route.

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