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Environmental and economic costs, benefits and uncertainties of vehicle electrification: a life cycle approach

  • Author(s): Ambrose, Hanjiro
  • et al.
Abstract

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have been proposed as a pathway for reducing the environmental impacts of transportation systems. While BEVs are often referred to as zero-emission vehicles, production and operation consume resources and emit pollutants through the vehicle supply chain and generation of electricity for vehicle charging. Life cycle assessment is a standardized methodology for assessing the environmental impacts of product systems from a system-wide perspective; considering the total supply chain and the product life cycle from cradle-to-grave. However, conventional LCAs are often limited; based off static supply chain analysis, omitting system interactions or indirect effects, and insufficiently reflecting the underlying variability and uncertainty to support robust public policy decisions.

The objective of this dissertation is to develop and refine methods of assessing the life cycle environmental impacts and economic costs of electric vehicle technologies and policies. The chapters of this dissertation make contributions in advancing spatial and temporal dynamics in LCA modelling, integrating vehicle operations with evolutions in technology, background systems, and product development, and offers novel estimates of the costs and emissions abatement potential of light and heavy duty electric vehicles. As shown herein, a systems perspective is required to estimate the environmental benefits and costs of vehicle electrification strategies. Efforts to achieve pollution abatement through technology change must address risks of leakage, substitution, and unintended environmental consequences.

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