Green NCAP took a closer look at the environmental balance in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and baseline energy requirements for vehicles tested in 2022 with various types of drive. The result shouldn’t really surprise anyone: EVs are clearly ahead in LCA – and SUVs are far below average.
Last year, Green NCAP tested 34 vehicles with different types of propulsion: battery electric motors, hybrid electrics, conventional gasoline and diesel engines, as well as one vehicle, the Ford Puma, that runs on alternative fuels. According to the press release, the LCA calculations used the interactive “Life Cycle Assessment Tool,” which is available to consumers on the Green NCAP website. Calculations are based on the average power mix of the 27 EU member states and the UK and on average mileage of 240,000 km over 16 years.
The results of the Green NCAP program show that the current and ongoing trend towards larger and heavier vehicles is significantly increasing the negative impacts on climate and energy demand. This leads not only to an increase in fuel consumption and electrical energy, but also to an increase in the volume of production of cars and batteries. “Consumers and manufacturers are partly responsible for this trend because they are increasingly choosing larger cars, especially SUVs.”condemns the Euro NCAP initiative.
In general, e-cars are only half as bad for the climate
Green NCAP uses life cycle analysis methods to examine the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and primary energy demand (PED) generated over the life cycle of a vehicle. Life cycle assessment results for 34 vehicles tested showed that battery-powered vehicles lead the way in reducing greenhouse gases, resulting in 40 to 50 percent lower emissions than conventional gasoline vehicles, depending on the model.
When it comes to initial energy requirements, the differences between electric cars and conventional vehicles are smaller. The tested hybrid electric sport utility vehicles (SUVs) will have higher fuel consumption and, due to higher emissions in the use phase, life cycle values in the range 200-240 g CO2-eq/km and an estimate of 0.85-1.0 kWh/km. These values will be between those of a large electric SUV and those of conventional petrol or diesel cars. Notable are the results of the bioethanol-powered Ford Puma (E85), whose greenhouse gas emissions drop closer to that of a battery electric vehicle than the same petrol-powered vehicle. “In this case, the processes required to produce biofuels increase the life-cycle energy requirements of the puma by 57 percent. However, since 60 percent of the total energy required comes from renewables, much less fossil fuel is used.”NCAP Green counts.
These calculations showed the significant differences between the environmental impacts of each vehicle, but also revealed the significant effect of mass on greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy demand. This is true for all powertrains, although the correlation may be slightly skewed for some vehicles due to differences in intake or powertrain efficiency. However, the overarching message is clear: the heavier the vehicle, the more harmful it is to the environment and the more energy required to operate the vehicle. In general, battery electric vehicles emit fewer greenhouse gases over their lifetime, but some of the gains are lost from through its heavy weight.”sums up Green NCAP.
Cars are getting heavier
Electric vehicles and electricity in general offer huge potential to reduce greenhouse gases, but the growing trend towards heavier vehicles reduces this potential. To counter this, Green NCAP calls on manufacturers to reduce the mass and dimensions of their products and appeals to consumers to consider not only the powertrain of their new cars, but also their weight when making their purchasing decisions.
In the past 10 years, the average weight of cars sold has increased by about 9 percent, or about 100 kilos. Small SUV sales have quintupled. Large SUV sales have increased sevenfold. Considering the effect of weight on consumption, GHG emissions and PED during production, an average weight gain of 100 kilograms for a compact family car is responsible for approximately 1.4 tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions and 5.7 MWh of additional energy consumed. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), 9.3 million good cars will be sold in 2022, 12.2 percent of which will be battery electric. According to Green NCAP, this leads to a “statement of account”: Assuming that eight million vehicles are on average 100 kg heavier, the climate impact of this weight increase would be equivalent to about 200,000 additional cars on European roads.
Source: Green NCAP press release dated 03/23/2023
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