The impact of automotive industry and its supply chain to climate change: Somme techno-economic aspects
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The purpose of the present paper is to present and discuss some techno-economic aspects of the impact of the automotive industry and its supply chain to climate change.
In order to provide a well-structured estimate to this global concern nowadays, we will deal with the following: we will clearly define what is meant by climate change and will resume the origins, the extend and the contribution of the automotive vehicles to this phenomenon; we will give an account of the actual world-fleet of vehicles and of the expected increase of this fleet in the forthcoming future, taking into consideration the projected in the future contribution of the world-fleet of vehicles in climate change and of the actions that have been taken by regulation authorities to reduce this phenomenon by limiting the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as of other pollutants by newly produced vehicles; we will provide a comprehensive approach of well-to-wheel studies regarding emission and energy consumption mainly performed in the USA, Japan and in the European Union.
The above studies will permit us to evaluate alternative technologies that the automotive industry is considering in order to comply with these regulations and to contribute in reducing the impact of vehicles in the environment and, subsequently, in the climate change.
CO2 equivalent gas emissions of vehicles are expected to increase in the coming years and, consequently, the contribution of the transport sector to climate change will also increase. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) constitute the technology to be adopted in order to reduce the contribution of vehicles to climate change. Given the multinational character of the automotive industry and of its suppliers, no major problems will appear in the introduction of new technology vehicles that are conceived to face the environment and climate change problems.
KeywordsAutomotive industry Supply chain Climate change Techno-economic aspects
1 Introduction: climate change/Greenhouse effect
Most of the scientists now agree that climate change is due to the Greenhouse effect (GHE), a phenomenon originating from human activities, see for example [1, 2]. It is mainly due to the emission of Greenhouse gases (GHG), in particular CO2 produced by combustion of organic material. GHG absorb and re-radiate back to earth the heat coming from the radiation of the sun provoking climate changes as reported in detail in .
The increase of the global average surface temperature of the earth;
The increase of the average sea level of the earth;
The decrease of the snow cover of the earth.
2 Impact on the automotive industry
World-fleet mean value of vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants for the years 2000 and 2010 
World-fleet of vehicles in the year 2000
Mean value of vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants in the year 2000
World-fleet of vehicles in the year 2010
Mean value of vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants in the year 2010
Fleet and number of vehicles per 1000 inhabitants of the major countries, for the years 2000 and 2010 
Fleet of vehicles in the year 2000
Number of vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants in the year 2000
Fleet of vehicles in the year 2010
Number of vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants in the year 2010
The constant increase of the world-fleet of vehicles (tripled by the year 2050 with respect to the base figure of 2000).
The ageing of these vehicles, which varies from one country to another. Note that, in the rich countries, the average age of the fleet of vehicles does not exceed 5 years and, consequently, the technology level implemented on these vehicles is complying with the most recent European or other equivalent regulations for emissions. But in poor and underdeveloped countries different priorities are set, permitting the use of a fleet of vehicles of an average age around 10–20 years with much higher emission levels.
2.1 Review of the available technologies for an ecological vehicle fleet
It must be pointed out that, it is not enough to replace the thermal vehicles by vehicles that have zero emissions locally in the area of operation, for example electric vehicles. We must also be certain that the chain of production of materials used to manufacture these vehicles and to produce the energy used by these vehicles during their operation life does not contribute to climate change and to pollution of the earth. This problem is certainly the most difficult to face in several countries that do not have the necessary natural resources. Well-to-wheel studies are needed in each country in order to evaluate each one of the new vehicle-technologies with respect to CO2 emissions and energy consumption, given the energy mix used in each country for electric energy production.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
Battery Electric Vehicle with Range Extender (RE-BEV)
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)
Actually HEV, PHEV, RE-BEV and BEV are already in the market. The FCEV technologies have already been developed and are under evaluation testing. They will be commercialized when the necessary infrastructure will be available to supply them with the appropriate energy.
2.2 Well-to-wheel studies
Evaluation of the suitability of one of the above automotive technologies to reduce emissions and to face climate change problems has been proved by several well-to-wheel studies mostly conducted in the USA, Japan and the EU, which are the major players in the automotive industry [8, 9, 10, 11]. However, these studies have not been conducted under the same assumptions and for the same energy mix and, therefore, the results are not the same and their comparison is difficult.
The general conclusion of all the well-to-wheel studies presented is that BEV emits less CO2 than any other vehicle when electricity is produced form a low carbon mix and possess the highest energy-efficiency ratio. FCEV are better only if the production of hydrogen is coming from renewable energy sources, which is not possible in all cases. This explains the recent shift in transport policy in USA, deciding to adopt BEV technology and build nuclear stations for energy production. The impact to the automotive industry due to this decision is considerable, because today’s battery-technology does not provide to BEV a range sufficient for the replacement of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Consequently, the existing RE-BEV technology shall be used. However, improvements are expected in the future, but until then, existing HEV, PHEV and RE-BEV can positively contribute to the environment by lowering GHG emissions by 30–50 %.
2.3 Key-technologies for BEV
- (i)Battery technology is the first key-technology for BEV. This is documented by the data presented in Fig. 9 , where the specific power of batteries of different technologies is represented as a function of Specific Energy. The target of the industry is a Li-ion battery with specific energy of 240–250 Wh/kg and specific power around 1000 W/kg, whereas, the performance of the existing batteries is approximately half of those figures.
- (ii)Adequate charging stations networks constitute the second key-technology for BEV. The different types of charging stations used of battery electric vehicles are:
The density of fast- and ultra-fast charging stations is directly related to the battery technology implemented in the vehicles and to the distance (kilometers) traveled daily most of the time; for example, the requirements for Japan are associated with a very dense charging network whereas for Switzerland less dense charging facilities are needed. Note, however, that the real charging time, when using the above mentioned charging stations, is presented in Fig. 10 .
Home overnight-charging: 230 V - 10 A - 2.3 kW
Home charging: 230 V - 16 A - 3.7 kW
Home fast-charging: 230 V - 32 A - 7.4 kW
3 phase fast-charging: 3 × 230 V - 32 A - 22 kW
3 phase ultra-fast charging: 3 × 230 V - 63 A - 43 kW
DC fast charging: 50 kW DC
DC ultra-fast charging: 100 kW DC
Availability of green electric power is the third key technology for BEV. The transport system consumes 38 % of the total energy in the EU. Future road transportation technologies by using BEV are considered by the authorities and the automotive industry. In order to comply with the emissions regulations that have already been issued, it is necessary to considerably increase the percentage of the energy used for transportation from an energy pathway that is not emitting GHG, and, therefore, an adequate electricity-distribution network is needed in this case. It may be pointed out that, if off-pick-hours charging smoothens-out the load on the global electricity network, fast charging during pick-hours may be catastrophic. Also, simultaneous connection of BEV on the electricity distribution network, in order to charge their batteries even during the off-pick-hours, may result in a local breakdown of the distribution network. Consequently we need smart chargers that first sense the load on the local network and then connect new charging-loads. The possibility to use the batteries of vehicles as storage of the electric energy produced by the electricity generation system, smoothening the load on this system, may also be considered.
The contribution of vehicles in climate change cannot be zeroed in a short time, because introduction of vehicles based on new technologies on the world-fleet is done progressively and actually depends on the world economic situation.
Plan and build an appropriate expansion of the electric power generation and distribution network;
Build an adequate network of charging-stations;
Position the charging stations in the country so as to maximise the travel range of BEV with today’s battery technology and also predict future improvements in that technology (otherwise money is wasted for charging stations that will not be needed in the future);
Provide some incentives to consumers for buying BEV, at a moderate scale so that the market growth rate of BEV is associated with rate of infrastructure building.
2.4 Impact on the international business and trade
Moreover, international cooperation in the production of car components is already a reality. For example, the German Bosch and Toyota are since many years’ co-owners of the two factories producing ABS brake systems in Japan. All car manufacturers have already established international cooperation with the producers of Li-ion batteries in order to secure their supply in batteries for their new technology vehicles. This cooperation is presented in Table 4 .
Annual demand for raw material for the production of Li-ion batteries 
92 Mio. t
12150 Mio. t 
16 Mio. t
550 Mio. t 
28 Mio. t 
1,6 Mio. t
70 Mio. t 
7,1 Mio. t 
14 Mio. t
500 Mio.t 
Battery OEM or suppliers (first columns), battery manufacturers (second column) and joint venture between battery manufacturers (third column) 
B Li-Motive, Continental
E-One-Moli (AC Propulsion)
Johnson Controls Saft
Blue Energy Co.
Lithium Energy Japan
Panasonic EV Energy
CO2 equivalent gas emissions of vehicles are expected to increase in the coming years and, consequently, the contribution of the transport sector to climate change will also increase, because, by the most conservative projections, the world-fleet of vehicles will triple by the year 2050.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) constitute the technology to be adopted in order to reduce the contribution of vehicles to climate change, but, for an effective application of BEV technology in the market, a serious shift to green energy generation may be needed. It is also necessary to provide an effective adaptation of the electricity distribution network in order to handle the loads of the BEV charging, either off-pick or during high demand hours.
Given the multinational character of the automotive industry and of its suppliers, no major problems will appear in the introduction of new technology vehicles that are conceived to face the environment and climate change problems, but the rate of absorption of these vehicles in the market will depend not only on the intensity of the climate changes, but also on the price of batteries with respect to the oil price, as well as on the decisive attitude of the regulations’ authorities. It is to be noted, however, that the recent global economic crisis may greatly affect vehicle sales and the projected constant increase of the ecological vehicle fleet.
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