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Current and Future United States Light-Duty Vehicle Pathways: Cradle-to-Grave Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Assessment

Elgowainy, Amgad, Han, Jeongwoo, Ward, Jacob, Joseck, Fred, Gohlke, David, Lindauer, Alicia, Ramsden, Todd, Biddy, Mary, Alexander, Mark, Barnhart, Steven, Sutherland, Ian, Verduzco, Laura, Wallington, Timothy J.
Environmental science & technology 2018 v.52 no.4 pp. 2392-2399
carbon, carbon dioxide, cradle-to-grave, diesel engines, economic analysis, electric vehicles, environmental science, gasoline, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, hydrogen, hydrogen fuel cells, manufacturing, natural gas, United States
This article presents a cradle-to-grave (C2G) assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and costs for current (2015) and future (2025–2030) light-duty vehicles. The analysis addressed both fuel cycle and vehicle manufacturing cycle for the following vehicle types: gasoline and diesel internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), flex fuel vehicles, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Gasoline ICEVs using current technology have C2G emissions of ∼450 gCO₂e/mi (grams of carbon dioxide equivalents per mile), while C2G emissions from HEVs, PHEVs, H₂ FCEVs, and BEVs range from 300–350 gCO₂e/mi. Future vehicle efficiency gains are expected to reduce emissions to ∼350 gCO₂/mi for ICEVs and ∼250 gCO₂ₑ/mi for HEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs, and BEVs. Utilizing low-carbon fuel pathways yields GHG reductions more than double those achieved by vehicle efficiency gains alone. Levelized costs of driving (LCDs) are in the range $0.25–$1.00/mi depending on time frame and vehicle-fuel technology. In all cases, vehicle cost represents the major (60–90%) contribution to LCDs. Currently, HEV and PHEV petroleum-fueled vehicles provide the most attractive cost in terms of avoided carbon emissions, although they offer lower potential GHG reductions. The ranges of LCD and cost of avoided carbon are narrower for the future technology pathways, reflecting the expected economic competitiveness of these alternative vehicles and fuels.