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Volvo C40 Recharge LCA highlights huge potential of manufacturing and charging EVs with clean energy

Volvo Cars has published a lifecycle analysis report on its second fully electric car, the C40 Recharge, which shows the potential CO2 reductions if a car is built and charged using clean energy sources.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The C40 Recharge has approximately 5% lower total carbon footprint than XC40 Recharge when charged with EU-28 electricity mix in the use phase, which is mainly because of better aerodynamic properties.

  • The C40 Recharge has a lower total carbon footprint than the XC40 ICE (E5 gasoline) for all the analyzed sources of electricity for the use phase.

  • Materials production and refining, battery module production and manufacturing at Volvo Cars for a C40 Recharge results in nearly 70% higher GHG emissions compared to an XC40 ICE (E5 gasoline).

  • The highly probable future reduction of carbon intensity of the EU-28 electricity mix will reduce the carbon footprint of C40 Recharge when using this mix for driving. However, a significantly lower carbon footprint is achieved when charging the car with renewable electricity, such as wind power.

  • Production of aluminium and the Li-ion battery modules have relative high carbon footprints, with a contribution of approximately 30% each to the total footprint of all materials and components in the C40 Recharge.

  • Choice of methodology has a significant impact on the total carbon footprint. Therefore, care should be taken when comparing results from this report with those from other vehicle manufacturers.

The availability of clean energy for both manufacturing and charging an electric Volvo makes a significant difference in terms of CO2 impact. When a driver charges a C40 Recharge with clean energy, such as wind power, the CO2 life cycle impact of the car is less than half that of a traditional, combustion-engine powered Volvo XC40. When charging with electricity generated through fossil fuels, that difference becomes much smaller.

Starting with the XC40 Recharge, its first electric car launched in 2019, Volvo Cars issues an LCA report for each fully electric model. These reports provide full transparency in terms of the car’s CO2 impact under a variety of scenarios and give customers valuable information about the car’s overall climate footprint.

The LCA report for the C40 Recharge shows that when charging it with electricity generated from clean sources, its lifecycle CO2 footprint comes down to approximately 27 tonnes of CO2, compared to 59 tonnes for an XC40 compact SUV powered by a combustion engine.

However, when drivers charge their C40 Recharge using an average global energy mix (which is generated for around 60% from fossil fuels), the car’s life cycle CO2 tonnage can increase to as much as 50 tonnes, significantly reducing the environmental gains versus a traditionally powered car.

Clean energy is also an important factor in reducing the carbon footprint involved in producing an electric car. The LCA reveals that production emissions of a C40 Recharge are 70% higher than for a gasoline-powered XC40. This is mainly due to the carbon intensity of battery and steel production, as well as from the increased share of aluminum in the car.


Break-even diagram. With higher GHGs from the production phase, EVs start with a higher carbon footprint than their fossil-fueled counterparts out of the factory gate. This situation reverses over time in the use phase, as the fossil-fueled vehicles generate GHGs at a much higher rate than the EVs (accounting for upstream emissions produced by power generation). The chart shows total amount of GHG emissions, depending on total kilometers driven, from XC40 ICE (dashed line) and C40 Recharge (with different electricity mixes in the use phase). Where the lines cross, break-even between the two vehicles occurs. So, for the C40 Recharge recharged with the global electricity mix, break-even is at 110,000 km. If recharged with wind electricity, break-even is at 49,000 km. All life cycle phases except use phase are summarized and set as the starting point for each line at zero distance. Source: Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars is taking active steps to address these emissions, including through planned collaborations with SSAB to develop fossil-free steel (earlier post) and with its battery suppliers to produce batteries using 100% renewable energy.

The company seeks to reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint per average car by 40% between 2018 and 2025, including through reducing carbon emissions in its supply chain by 25% by 2025.



Polestar and now their associate Volvo lead the way in proper transparent carbon accounting for vehicles, as they make them fully public unlike Toyota and BMW.

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