Prospective Environmental Impacts of Passenger Cars under Different Energy and Steel Production Scenarios

Michael Samsu Koroma, Maarten Messagie, Giuseppe Cardellini, Nils Brown

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The potential environmental impacts of producing and using future electric vehicles (EVs) are important given their expected role in mitigating global climate change and local air pollutants. Recently, studies have begun assessing the effect of potential future changes in EVs supply chains on overall environmental performance. This study contributes by integrating expected changes in future energy, iron, and steel production in the life cycle assessment (LCA) of EVs. In this light, the study examines the impacts of changes in these parameters on producing and charging future EVs. Future battery electric vehicles (BEV) could have a 36–53% lower global warming potential (GWP) compared to current BEV. The change in source of electricity generation accounts for 89% of GWP reductions over the BEV’s life cycle. Thus, it presents the highest GWP reduction potential of 35– 48%. The use of hydrogen for direct reduction of iron in steelmaking (HDR-I) is expected to reduce vehicle production GWP by 17% compared to current technology. By accounting for 9% of the life cycle GWP reductions, HDR-I has the second-highest reduction potential (1.3–4.8%). The results also show that the potential for energy efficiency improvement measures for GWP reduction in vehicle and battery manufacture would be more beneficial when applied now than in the distant future (2050), when the CO2 intensity of the EU electricity is expected to be lower. Interestingly, under the same conditions, the high share of renewable energy in vehicle supply chains contributed to a decrease in all air pollution-related impact categories, but an increase in toxicity-related categories, as well as land use and water consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6236
Number of pages17
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020


  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Battery Electric Vehicles
  • Prospective LCA
  • Plug-in electric vehicles
  • Fossil-free steel

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