WorldAutoSteel, the automotive group of the World Steel Association, with support from investor companies of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), stressed the need to shift the basis of vehicle emissions regulations from tailpipe emissions to a total life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA considers emissions from all aspects of a vehicle’s life including material and vehicle production, driving, and end-of-life-recycling and should become a factor in vehicle emissions regulations around the world, according to WorldAutoSteel.
A report prepared by Ricardo earlier this year for, and in collaboration with, the expert membership of the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (earlier post) highlighted the increasing importance of accounting for whole life carbon emissions to compare the greenhouse gas emissions of low carbon vehicles. The study found that some of the CO2 savings made during the use of low carbon vehicles is offset by increased emissions created during their production, and to a lesser extent, disposal.
For example, a typical medium-sized family car will create around 24 tonnes of CO2 during its life cycle, while an electric vehicle (EV) will produce around 18 tonnes over its life, the report said. For a battery EV, 46% of its total carbon footprint is generated at the factory, before it has travelled a single mile.
The Ricardo/LowCVP report recommended that regulators should consider a new CO2 metric based on the GHG emissions emitted during vehicle production [tCO2e], and then consider targets aimed at reducing the life cycle CO2 [tCO2e].
When vehicle emissions assessments are focused solely on the emissions produced during the driving phase (tailpipe), it encourages the use of greenhouse gas-intensive materials in the effort to reduce vehicle weight and fuel consumption. However, this may have the unintended consequence of increasing greenhouse gas emissions during the vehicle’s total life cycle.—Cees ten Broek, director, WorldAutoSteel
Alternative materials, such as aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber produce emissions during their manufacture that are five to 20 times greater than steel, the steel association said.
The United States is currently examining fuel economy and emissions requirements for 2017-2025, while the mid-term review of EU legislation on emission standards for new cars is expected next year and, in many Asia Pacific countries, vehicle efficiency standards also are being assessed. In light of these developments, the industry is calling for a shift from tailpipe emissions regulations to a LCA approach that effectively measures the carbon footprint of current and future cars.
Regulations that focus only on one part of the vehicle’s life cycle will become immediately out of date as the electric vehicle becomes more prominent on the road. We are only shifting the problem to other vehicle life cycle phases.—Cees ten Broek
WorldAutoSteel recently released results of a global steel industry initiative, the FutureSteelVehicle (FSV), which features fully engineered steel body structure designs for electrified vehicles that reduce total life cycle emissions by nearly 70% and vehicle weight by 35% compared to a benchmark. (Earlier post.)
SMDI Automotive Applications Council Investors include: AK Steel Corporation; ArcelorMittal Dofasco; ArcelorMittal USA LLC; Nucor Corporation; Severstal North America Inc.; ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC; United States Steel Corporation.
Preparing for a Life Cycle CO2 Measure (Ricardo, 2011 for LowCVP)