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Emissions Analytics: mass adoption of hybrids, rather than low-volume BEVs most effective for cutting CO2 now, meeting 2030 targets; best use of limited resource

Emissions Analytics, a leading independent specialist for the scientific measurement of real-world emissions, suggests that mass adoption of hybrid vehicles, rather than low-volume take-up of full BEVs, is the most effective solution to cutting CO2 now and also in meeting 2030 emission targets.

Of all electrification strategies, full BEVs currently offer the least effective CO2 reduction per kWh of battery size, according to the analysis by the firm: 21 times worse than mild hybrids and 14 times worse than full hybrids.

With automotive battery capacity currently scarce, expensive and suffering supply problems, the deployment of this limited resource is critical to maximizing CO2 reduction, Emissions Analytics says. With tardy consumer adoption of BEVs and slow infrastructure roll-out compounded by concerns around an economical supply of batteries, it is essential to find the fastest, most efficient way to reduce CO2 now.

One of our biggest challenges is fleet turnover, with vehicles staying on the road typically for up to 12 years. It means that refreshing the entire fleet is a very slow process. Given reservations about current BEVs, we require an alternative that will have a more immediate impact. Due to CO2’s long life in the atmosphere, a small change now is far better than a large change in the future. We need to optimize the use of the industry’s available battery capacity to facilitate a critical early reduction.

—Nick Molden, CEO of Emissions Analytics

Through extensive real-world testing of electrified vehicles, Emissions Analytics has found that hybrids, whether in gasoline or diesel form, offer the highest CO2 reduction per kWh across all electrified powertrains.

Using mild, full and plug-in hybrid real-world emissions test data from both European and US vehicles, Emissions Analytics compared hybrids with their internal combustion engine equivalents. Using its standardized on-road cycle, the company determined the average CO2 reduction from hybridization was 23% for the EU and 34% for the US, with an average of 30% across all pairings.

Emissions Analytics then calculated the distance-specific CO2 reduction per unit of battery size (capacity), in g/km/kWh, for mild, full, plug-in hybrids and BEVs.

The results indicated that mild hybrids are the most efficient way to reduce CO2, given limited global battery capacity. With a reduction of 73.9g/km/kWh, the technology was a clear favorite, with full hybrids coming in second at 50.5g/km/kWh.

Due to their disproportionately large batteries, BEVs were the worst of the available options, with a mere 3.5g/km/kWh reduction. The size of BEV batteries tends to be large to accommodate infrequent, extreme use cases—such as high-mileage trips, not often undertaken by average drivers—and do not make the best uses of limited supply.

The calculations did not take into account the upstream CO2 in fuel extraction, refining and transportation, or the production and distribution of electricity. Some studies suggest the upstream CO2 of electricity is greater than for gasoline, but the relative efficiency calculations here implicitly assume they are equal.

Electrification has proved to be a promising path to reducing tailpipe emissions. The most extreme form of the technology—fully-electric vehicles—is often hailed as the solution. Paradoxically, full BEVs appear to be a highly inefficient way to achieve an urgent and meaningful CO2 reduction. With supply chain issues and consumer acceptance challenges including range and price, there is cause to investigate alternative use of our limited battery capacity.

—Nick Molden

Improving the air quality in cities is another popular reason for those championing BEVs. It is, however, a false assertion that they are needed to fulfil this purpose. Existing technology is more than capable of bringing European cities within compliance, the primary polluters being vehicles with older internal combustion engine technology.

Molden outlined two potential paths that are immediately available. One is a switch from gasoline to diesel, reducing CO2 by 11%, coupled with a mild hybrid system, providing a further 6% reduction. A final swap to full hybrids would deliver an addition 16% reduction for a 34% total. Alternatively, switching directly from gasoline to gasoline mild hybrids provides an 11% reduction, with a further 23% from the move to full hybrid.

The EU’s post-2021 CO2 reduction target for passenger cars is 37.5% by 2030. Emissions Analytics tests clearly shows that, even with current technology, widespread hybridization would achieve more than three-quarters of that target.

Given a decade of further advances and innovations, it is possible that the goal could be met without the need for BEVs at all, Emissions Analytics says. Beyond the 37.5% reduction target, more extensive electrification would be required to bring whole fleet emissions down.

The ideal solution is an immediate transition to petrol and diesel hybrids, with a further decade spent refining the technology, infrastructure and battery supply chain to allow the adoption of BEVs. By 2030, the EU and the US would have had another decade to develop expanded, cleaner electricity generation capacity, improving the lifecycle emissions of BEVs.

Alternatively, by 2030 the availability and price of renewable energy may well fall to a level at which hydrogen fuel cells could be economically viable. These avoid the environmental and geopolitical issues caused by largescale battery production and would likely offer even lower lifecycle emissions. The overall message is this though: it is paramount that governments and industry take into consideration real-world data when promoting technologies to efficiently reduce CO2.

—Nick Molden

Emissions Analytics seeks to bring transparency to a confused market sector. It publishes the EQUA Index of real-world driving emissions and works with clients around the world to establish accurate emissions measurement and data requirements.

Comments

Davemart

The embodied energy in batteries is also very large, so that BEVs and especially the more useful long range BEVs on a lifecycle basis are of dubious benefit in reducing GHG emissions.

They are great for harvesting subsidies though.

Peter_XX

Yeah, subsidies and all kind of other incentives (e.g. free parking) are the main selling points for BEVs.

Those of you who can log in on LinkedIn can have a look at this:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ghg-potential-hybrid-vehicles-critically-needed-under-kevin-f-brown/

HarveyD

A better solution will come from Asia (mainly from China and Vietnam) with better (up to 500 Wh/Kg) and much lower (well under $100/kWh by 2025 and close to $50/kWh by 2030/2035 or so) batteries and lower cost mass produced electric systems and e-vehicles.

A basic e-vehicle (for 4 people) will soon be produced in China for under $15,000). EU and USA may do the same 10 years latter for about $30,000?

Engineer-Poet

Heh.  Called it.

One of the things about mild and even full hybrids is that they may not require additional batteries at all.  Ultracaps are definitely sufficient for start-stop and probably for regular hybrids.  Being able to bypass the battery supply chain would accelerate the changeover and probably lower costs as well.

Roger Pham

Indeed, the major selling points for long-range BEV's like Tesla are high performance and novelty, and not really about environmentalism. Most people don't much care about the environment.
A hybrid (HEV) has been known to be cost-saving over a comparable non-hybrid, yet hybrids has not really been growing in sales, perhaps due to the higher initial cost and the fear of high cost of battery replacement and of repairs of the hybrid power train.
The higher cost of a HEV will be more than offset by lower fuel cost, however, it is the fear of battery replacement and of repairs of the hybrid power train that has kept most people from purchasing HEV's, even though in the majority of cases, HV battery packs have been known to last for the life of the car, and that overall repairs for HEV power train have been a lot lower than repair costs of a transmission unit.

Better public education will greatly help in this regard, if the governments want to protect the environment and energy security seriously, and NOT any budget-draining subsidies for cars with huge battery packs that can do more harms for the environment than helping it, especially when the Lithium is not even recycled due to the cost of recycling Lithium from Li-ion batteries..

Engineer-Poet

I couldn't resist taking a peek at the current state of ultracaps.

Mouser currently has a 56 V 130 F Maxwell ultracap module for just under $1900.  Over a voltage swing from 27 V to 54 V it would store almost 153 kJ, just over 42 Wh.  Rated power is 10 kW.

Kinetic energy of a 1500 kg passenger car travelling at 30 MPH is about 135 kJ.  If the cost came down, ultracaps could make really good hybrid car energy storage.  More power would probably come with better cooling.

Lad

Hybrids are a great invention if you are managing an automotive company; they will assist in feathering out your costs to convert to electric power trains; and, if you are in the fossil fuel business, they will help slow down your pending Waterloo and extend your profits out longer. On the other hand if you are a commoner, they will extend the time you must continue to cope with the vast amount of pollution created by internal combustion engines.

It's been said many times; the way to fight pollution is buy a fully electric car and install solar power.

mahonj

@lad, I would suggest that the place to install solar is at grid level (rather than individual home level) - that way, there is nearly always a market for the energy without huge expense in batteries. Also, lots of people do not have the roof space for solar.
I'm inclined to agree with the basic thesis that lots of hybrids are better than a few pure EVs, Over time, you could incresae the battery capacity in new generations of hybrids so they become PHEVs to some extent (and save a lot more power).
The problem with BEVs is that people size their batteries to distances which they rarely travel, wasting a lot of batter capacity. With hybrids and PHEVs there is essentially no battery capacity wasted.

Paroway

there is no " dubious benefit in reducing GHG emissions." in the use of BEVs. It has been well studied and proven to be of much greater benefit. The obvious problem with hybrids is the continued support of the oil industry as well as the added complexity and maintenance of a gas or diesel motor.

LUH3417

Emissions Analytics' business is testing emissions.
BEVs will put them out of business.

juxx0r

Problem is denominator, per kWh.

Hybrids have lost, EV's now outnumber hybrid sales.

It's time to acknowledge the real solution is EVs and Renewables and stop prevaricating and get on with it. BS like this doesn't help.

LUH3417

Battery production capacity constraints are key to the EA study results. Study refers to projections from here:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/toyota-grant-open-patent-access-drive-industry-uptake-kevin-f-brown/
Which projects BEV battery capacity of 16 GWhr by 2030, while 800GWhr capacity is needed.
Others project vastly more production capacity. Here 1,000GWhr is projected by 2028:
https://www.visualcapitalist.com/battery-megafactory-forecast-1-twh-capacity-2028/

SJC

This is what we have been saying for years, especially PHEV.

Peter_XX

I cannot comprehend why we did not have this discussion already a couple of years ago. The current hype about BEVs reminds me of a Danish fairy tale.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

Peter_XX

@LUH3417
You are probably right about EA and their business. On the other hand, I presume manufacturers of BEVs also care about their business. Perhaps you should not trust anyone :).

HarveyD

China, Vietnam, So-Korea, Japan will soon solve the BEV high cost problem with much lower cost mass produced EV batteries and lower cost electrified vehicles to match current equivalent ICEVs and PHEVs .

Meanwhile, excellent HEVs (52/57 mpg) from Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are doing a good interim job at an affordable price.

Of course, PHEVs with much larger more costly batteries can to better (up to 110/120 mpge) but at a higher total initial cost. It is still an interesting interim solution.

Engineer-Poet

I am regularly amazed by un-clueful statements from people who've been around here long enough to know better.  Case in point:

there is no " dubious benefit in reducing GHG emissions." in the use of BEVs. It has been well studied and proven to be of much greater benefit.

Putting 100 kWh into 1% of the fleet does far less good than putting 1 kWh into 100% of the fleet.  FTFA:

The results indicated that mild hybrids are the most efficient way to reduce CO2, given limited global battery capacity. With a reduction of 73.9g/km/kWh, the technology was a clear favorite, with full hybrids coming in second at 50.5g/km/kWh.

Due to their disproportionately large batteries, BEVs were the worst of the available options, with a mere 3.5g/km/kWh reduction.

Engineer-Poet

(continued)
The claim that BEVs are going to hurt the oil industry in the short term is unsupported.

The obvious problem with hybrids is the continued support of the oil industry as well as the added complexity and maintenance of a gas or diesel motor.
  • If BEVs become 1% of the fleet, 1% of fuel demand is replaced.
  • If MHEVs become 100% of the fleet, 11% of fuel demand is replaced.
Which do you think is worse for the oil industry?

Engineer-Poet

There are a number of posters here (hi, AlzHarvey!) whose advice is always the most expensive and least effective way to address petroleum consumption and carbon emissions.  I'm certain that these people are paid by the fossil-fuel industry (though they may receive their payment through Green front groups, that's who is ultimately paying them).

GdB

Massive battery production expansion makes this whole discussion moot. Almost 2 gigafactory every year is forecasted. Also new dry cell tech will allow massive increases in production at each factory upgraded.

Therefor for long range this article really makes the point of mandating MHEV or even HEV at about the same cost with only a bit more battery.

MHEV's have reached optimum cost and efficiency, but BEV and HEV have much room the improve so will eventually dominate without subsidies.

On a per kwh of battery basis, just increasing CAFE standards, forcing better aerodynamic designs... is superior and low cost. For example Tesla Model 3 has 41% less drag than Chevy Bolt, but about the same passenger + cargo volume (M3 112.3 vs Bolt 110.9 cuft).

Engineer-Poet

The USA purchases about 17 million LDVs per year.

A Gigafactory can produce about 30 GWh of cells per year (and assemble even more into packs, but the cells have to come from somewhere).  Converting all vehicles to MHEV, HEV, etc. would require:

  • 17 million MHEVs at 0.5 kWh each would require 0.28 Gigafactories.
  • 17 million HEVs at 2.0 kWh each would require 1.12 Gigafactories.
  • 17 million PHEVs at 10 kWh each would require 5.7 Gigafactories.
  • 17 million Tesla Model 3's at 50 kWh each would require 28.3 Gigafactories; 17 million Tesla Model X's at 100 kWh each would require 56.7 Gigafactories.
Note, that's just for the USA.

We should be able to make everything an MHEV more or less today.  We could produce enough batteries to make everything either HEV or PHEV in a few years.  Making everything a BEV is considerably further off.

We'd have a lot more immediate impact by converting everything to HEV (~35% savings) and then to PHEV (~65-80% savings) rather than converting only 10-20% of the fleet to BEV.

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