While almost all life cycle assessment (LCA) studies published so far are based on generic vehicles, type approval energy consumption as well as emission data, and application scenarios related to standardized laboratory-based driving cycles, this projects aims at quantifying the LCA based on a real-world vehicle composition and energy consumption data measured before and after the electric conversion of a mini class car. Furthermore, consequences of a second life of a vehicle’s glider on the environmental impact were investigated.
After having driven 100,000 km, a Smart was converted from combustion to electric in a laboratory project. The inventory was developed grounded upon materials data from laboratory measurements during the conversion process as well as on real-world energy consumption data prior and after the conversion. Three base models are compared in this life cycle impact assessment: a conventional new Smart (combustion engine), a new electric Smart, and a Smart converted from combustion engine to electric. Together with two sensitivity analyses (four different electricity mixes as well as urban vs. mixed driving conditions) and two EOL treatments, 36 scenarios have been quantified. The inventory is based on Ecoinvent database v 2.2 as a background system and includes raw material extraction.
Results and discussion
In urban use, the modeled battery electric vehicle has a favorable environmental impact compared to the ICEV even when charged with the German electricity mix of the year 2013. The advantage in summed up endpoints of the converted Smart is 23 % vs. the new electric Smart on average for the mixed driving conditions and 26 % for the urban driving conditions, respectively. Over a variety of impact categories, electricity consumption during battery cell production in China as well as impacts due to microelectronic components dominated the life cycle. Results for 18 midpoint categories, endpoints for damages to human health, to resource quality and to ecosystem quality as well as the Single score endpoints are reported.
This investigation points out that real-world treatments in inventory development can more specifically outline the environmental advantages of the electric car. The electric conversion of a used combustion engine vehicle can save an additional 16 % (CO2-eq) and 19 % (single score endpoints) of the environmental impact over a lifetime, respectively, when compared with the new BEV.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Glider: a car without the powertrain (Del Duce et al. 2014)
Abelein U, Lochner H, Hahn D, Straube S (2012) Complexity, quality and robustness—the challenges of tomorrow’s automotive electronics. Design, Automation & Test in Europe Conference & Exhibition (DATE), Dresden. Conference paper. IEEE publ., 870–871 Available at: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6176573. Accessed 28 Feb 2015
Abtew M, Selvaduray G (2000) Lead-free solders in microelectronics. Mat Sci Eng R Rep 27(5–6):95–141
Althaus HJ, de Haan P, Scholz RW (2009) Traffic noise in LCA. Part 1: state-of-science and requirement profile for consistent context-sensitive integration of traffic noise in LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 14:560–570
Andrae ASG, Andersen O (2011) Life cycle assessment of integrated circuit packaging technologies. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:258–267
Althaus HJ, Gauch M (2010) Vergleichende Ökobilanz individueller Mobilität, EMPA — Forschungsinstitut, ETH Zürich, Dübendorf, Germany. Available at http://www.empa.ch/plugin/template/empa/*/104369. Accessed 17 Feb 2015
Bartolozzi I, Rizzi F, Frey M (2013) Comparison between hydrogen and electric vehicles by life cycle assessment: a case study in Tuscany, Italy. Appl Energy 101:103–111
Cames M, Helmers E (2013) Critical evaluation of the European diesel car boom—global comparison, environmental effects and various national strategies. Environ Sci Eur (ESEU) 25:15 (22 pages); http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/2190-4715-25-15.pdf
Carslaw DC, Rhys-Tyler G (2013) New insights from comprehensive on-road measurements of NO x , NO2 and NH3 from vehicle emission remote sensing in London, UK. Atmos Environ 81:339–347
Del Corso F, Mettlach H, Morcrette M, Koehler U, Gousset C, Sarrazin C, Binotto G, Porcellato D, Vest M (2015) Helios—high energy lithium ion storage solutions: comparative assessment of 4 chemistries of cathode for EV and PHEV applications. In: Briec E, Mueller B (eds) Electric vehicle batteries: moving from research towards innovation. Lecture notes in mobility. Springer International Publishing Switzerland, pp 1–17
Del Duce A, Egede P, Öhlschläger G, Dettmer T, Althaus HJ, Thomas Bütler T, Szczechowicz E (2013) Guidelines for the LCA of electric vehicles. Available at: http://www.elcar-project.eu/fileadmin/dokumente/Guideline_versions/eLCAr_guidelines.pdf. Accessed 15 Feb 2015
Del Duce A, Gauch M, Hans-Jörg Althaus HJ (2014) Inventories in ecoinvent version 3: electric passenger car transport and passenger car life cycle. Int J Life Cycle Assess. doi:10.1007/s11367-014-0792-4
Du X, Graedel TE (2011) Global in-use stocks of the rare earth elements: a first estimate. Environ Sci Technol 45(9):4096–4101
Ecoinvent (2010) Implementation of life cycle impact assessment methods. Ecoinvent report No. 3, Data v2.2. Dübendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Center for Life Cycle Inventories. Available at: http://www.ecoinvent.org/fileadmin/documents/en/03_LCIA-Implementation-v2.2.pdf. Accessed 16 Feb 15
Favre C, Bosteels D, May J (2013) Exhaust emissions from European market-available passenger cars evaluated on various drive cycles. SAE Technical Paper 2013-24-0154, 2013, doi:10.4271/2013-24-0154. Available at http://www.aecc.eu/content/pdf/SAE%202013-24-0154%20ICE2013.pdf. Accessed 17 May 2015
Feng K, Hubacek K, Siu YL, Li X (2014) The energy and water nexus in Chinese electricity production: a hybrid life cycle analysis. Renew Sust Energ Rev 11(39):342–355
Frischknecht R, Flury K (2011) Life cycle assessment of electric mobility: answers and challenges—Zurich, April 6, 2011. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:691–695
Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Huijbregts M, Schwryver AD, Struijs, Jaap, Van Zelm R (2009) ReCiPe 2008—a life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level. First edition. Report I: characterisation. Ministerie van VROM, Den Haag. Available at: http://www.leidenuniv.nl/cml/ssp/publications/recipe_characterisation.pdf. Accessed 14 Feb 2015
Habermacher F (2011) Modeling material inventories and environmental impacts of electric passenger cars. MS thesis, available at: http://www.empa.ch/plugin/template/empa/*/109104/---/l=1 Accessed 17 May 2015
Hawkins TA, Ola Moa Gausen OM, Strømman AH (2012) Environmental impacts of hybrid and electric vehicles—a review. Int J Life Cycle Assess 17:997–1014. Available at: http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/170/art%253A10.1007%252Fs11367-012-0440-9.pdf?auth66=1423917872_8f752e454f91db91639072c1d9e91fc1&ext=.pdf
Hawkins TR, Singh B, Majeau-Bettez G, Strømman AH (2013) Comparative environmental life cycle assessment of conventional and electric vehicles. J Ind Ecol 17(1):53–64
Helmers E (2009) The car of the future (in German). 204 pp. Wiley, Weinheim. 1st chapter available at http://www.wiley-vch.de/books/sample/3527326480_c01.pdf. Accessed 13 Feb 2015
Helmers E (2010) Bewertung der Umwelteffizienz moderner Autoantriebe—auf dem Weg vom Diesel-Pkw-Boom zu Elektroautos. Umweltwiss Schadst Forsch 22:564–578
Helmers E, Marx P (2012) Electric cars: technical characteristics and environmental impacts. Environmental Sciences Europe (ESEU) 24: 14, available at: http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/2190-4715-24-14.pdf
Helmers (2015) Possible Resource Restrictions for the Future Large-Scale Production of Electric Cars. Springer International Publishing. In: Hartard S, Liebert W (eds) Competition and Conflicts on Resource Use, Natural Resource Management and Policy 46, pp 121–131
Helms H, Jöhrens J, Hanusch J, Höpfner U, Lambrecht U, Pehnt M (2011) UMBReLA Umweltbilanzen Elektromobilität, Grundlagenbericht. Available at: http://www.ifeu.de/Umbrela/images/pdf/ifeu_%282011%29_-_UMBReLA_grundlagenbericht.pdf. Accessed 15 Feb 2015
ICCT (2014a) From laboratory to road. A comparison of official and ‘real-world’ fuel consumption and CO2 values for cars in Europe and the United States. Available at: http://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT_LabToRoad_20130527.pdf. Accessed 13 Feb 2015
ICCT (2014b) Real-world exhaust emissions from modern diesel cars. Available at: http://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT_LaboratoryToRoad_2014_Report_English.pdf. Accessed 13 Feb 2015
IEA (2014) Electricity information 2014, with 2013 data. International Energy Agency, Paris, 896 pp
IPCC (2014) 5th Assessment report, working group 3, chapter 8: Transport. Available at: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/. Accessed 13 Feb 2015
Jabben J, Verheijen E, Potma C (2012) Noise reduction by electric vehicles in the Netherlands. Available at: https://leo.mech.pg.gda.pl/sites/leo.mech.pg.gda.pl/files/files/Noise%20reduction%20by%20electric%20vehicles%20-%20in12_1027.pdf. Accessed 7 March 2015
Kalmykova Y, Rosado L, Patrício J (2015) Resource consumption drivers and pathways to reduction: economy, policy and lifestyle impact on material flows at the national and urban scale. Journal of Cleaner Production. Available online 18 February 2015 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652615001407#. Accessed 18 May 2015
Karabasoglu O, Michalek J (2013) Influence of driving patterns on life cycle cost and emissions of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle powertrains. Energy Pol 60:445–461
Kern B, Spiess S, Richter J (2014) Comprehensive gasoline exhaust gas aftertreatment, an effective measure to minimize the contribution of modern direct injection engines to fine dust and soot emissions? SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1513, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-1513
Khaligh A, Dusmez S (2012) Comprehensive topological analysis of conductive and inductive charging solutions for plug-in electric vehicles. IEEE Trans Veh Technol 61(8):3475–3489
Ma H, Balthasar F, Tait N, Riera-Palou X, Harrison A (2012) A new comparison between the life cycle green house gas emissions of battery electric vehicles and internal combustion vehicles. Energ Pol 44:160–173
Majeau-Bettez G, Hawkins TA, Strømman AH (2011a) Life cycle environmental assessment of lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries for plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Environ Sci Technol 45(10):4548–4554
Majeau-Bettez G, Hawkins, TR, Hammer SA (2011b) Supporting information for the manuscript entitled: life cycle environmental assessment of lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries for plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Available at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/suppl/10.1021/es103607c. Accessed 18 Mar 2014
Messagie M, Boureima FS, Coosemans T, Macharis C, Van Mierlo J (2014) A range-based vehicle life cycle assessment incorporating variability in the environmental assessment of different vehicle technologies and fuels. Energies 7:1467–1482
Nitsch J, Pregger T, Naegler T, Heide D, de Tena DL, Trieb F, Scholz Y, Nienhaus K, Gerhardt N, Sterner M, Trost T, Oehsen A, Schwinn R, Pape C, Hahn H, Wickert M, Wenzel B (2012) Langfristszenarien und Strategien für den Ausbau der erneuerbaren Energien in Deutschland bei Berücksichtigung der Entwicklung in Europa und global. Schlussbericht BMU - FKZ 03MAP146. Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). Available at: http://www.dlr.de/dlr/Portaldata/1/Resources/bilder/portal/portal_2012_1/leitstudie2011_bf.pdf. Accessed 25 Feb 2015
Nitsch J (2013) „Szenario 2013“—eine Weiterentwicklung des Leitszenarios 2011. Eckdaten und Kurzbeschreibung. Available at: http://www.neueenergie.net/sites/default/files/medien/u234/dateien/130413_szenario-2013_nitsch.pdf. Accessed 25 Feb 2015
Nordelöf A, Messagie M, Tillman AM, Ljunggren M, Söderman JVM (2014) Environmental impacts of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles — what can we learn from life cycle assessment? Int J Life Cycle Assess 19:1866–1890
Notter DA, Gauch M, Widmer R, Wäger P, Stamp A, Zah R, Althaus HJ (2010a) Contribution of Li-ion batteries to the environmental impact of electric vehicles. Environ Sci Technol 44:6550–6556
Notter DA, Gauch M, Widmer R, Wäger P, Stamp A, Zah R, Althaus HJ (2010b) Supporting information for the manuscript entitled “Contribution of li-ion batteries to the environmental impact of electric vehicles”. Available at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/suppl/10.1021/es903729a. Accessed 18 Mar 2015
Parliament UK (2014) The UK power sector: trends and targets. Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmenergy/523/52305.htm. Accessed 7 Mar 2015
Roy J (2014) Climate change 2014. Mitigation of climate change. CLA Industry chapter , IPCC Working Group III. Sectoral and Cross Sectoral Mitigation available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/unfccc/sbsta40/SED/3_roy_sed3.pdf. Accessed 13 Feb 2015
Schweimer GW, Levin M (2000) Life cycle inventory for the Golf A4 Research, Environment and Transport, Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg. Available at: http://www.volkswagenag.com/content/vwcorp/info_center/en/publications/2007/01/Golf_A4__Life_Cycle_Inventory.bin.html/binarystorageitem/file/golfa4_english.pdf. Accessed 15 Feb 2015
Szczechowicz E, Dederichs T, Schnettler A (2012) Regional assessment of local emissions of electric vehicles using traffic simulations for a use case in Germany. Int J Life Cycle Assess 17(9):1131–1141
Tao PC (2011) Potential economic and environmental advantages of lithium-ion battery manufacturing using geothermal energy in Iceland. MS thesis, Reykjavík University. Available at: http://en.ru.is/media/reyst/PaiChun-Tao.pdf. Accessed 1 Mar 2015
T & E (2013) Particle emissions from petrol cars—briefing. Transport & Environment. 4 pp. Available at http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/GDI%20Briefing_final_T%26E.pdf. Accessed 17 May 2015
UN (1992) UN conference on environment and delevelopment (1992). Available at http://www.un.org/geninfo/bp/enviro.html. Accessed 13 Feb 2015
UNEP (2013) Metal recycling—opportunities, limits, infrastructure. 320 pp. Available at http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/Portals/24102/PDFs/Metal_Recycling_Full_Report.pdf. Accessed 18 May 2015
VDMA (2014) Roadmap Batterie-Produktionsmittel 2030. Report, VDMA Industriekreis Batterieproduktion. 68 pp. Available at http://www.vdma.org/article/-/articleview/5540177. Accessed 20 Feb 2015
WBGU (2011) World in transition. A social contract for sustainability, flagship report. German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). 420 pp. Available at: http://www.wbgu.de/fileadmin/templates/dateien/veroeffentlichungen/hauptgutachten/jg2011/wbgu_jg2011_en.pdf. Accessed 17 May 2015
WHO (2011) Burden of disease from environmental noise quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/136466/e94888.pdf. Accessed 7 Mar 2015
Yuksel T, Michalek, J (2012) Development of a simulation model to analyze the effect of thermal management on battery life. SAE International paper # 2012-01-0671, Published 2012-04-16, DOI 10.4271/2012-01-0671. Available at http://www.cmu.edu/me/ddl/publications/2012-SAE-Yuksel-Michalek-Thermal-Mgmt.pdf Accessed 20 Feb 2015
This work was partly financed by the German State of Rhineland-Palatinate within the Netzwerk Elektromobilität. We are grateful to two reviewers of IJLCA for supplying numerous helpful suggestions.
Responsible editor: Alexandra Pehlken
About this article
Cite this article
Helmers, E., Dietz, J. & Hartard, S. Electric car life cycle assessment based on real-world mileage and the electric conversion scenario. Int J Life Cycle Assess 22, 15–30 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-015-0934-3
- Battery electric vehicle
- Electric conversion
- Real-world driving
- Urban use