Ford, U Mich study finds greater greenhouse gas reductions for pickup truck electrification than for other light-duty vehicles
05 March 2022
Researchers at the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company have conducted a cradle-to-grave life cycle GHG assessment of model year 2020 ICEV, HEV, and BEV sedans, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and pickup trucks in the United States. Light-duty vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks, are currently responsible for 58% of US transportation sector emissions. Pickup trucks accounted for 14% of light-duty vehicle sales in the United States in 2020, and the market share of both pickups and SUVs has grown in recent years.
In an open-access paper in Environmental Research Letters, they show that the proportional emissions benefit of electrification is approximately independent of vehicle class.
For sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks they found that HEVs and BEVs have approximately 28% and 64% lower cradle-to-grave life-cycle emissions, respectively, than ICEVs in the base case model. This results in a lifetime BEV over ICEV GHG emissions benefit of approximately 45 tonnes CO2e for sedans, 56 tonnes CO2e for SUVs, and 74 tonnes CO2e for pickup trucks.
Though the percentage savings is approximately the same across vehicle classes, on average replacing an internal-combustion-engine sedan with a battery-electric sedan saves 45 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, replacing an internal-combustion-engine SUV with a battery-electric SUV saves 56 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, and replacing an internal-combustion-engine pickup with a battery-electric pickup saves 74 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent over the lifetime of the vehicles.—first author and Center for Sustainable Systems Research Specialist Max Woody
They also found that the benefits of electrification remain significant with increased battery size, reduced BEV lifetime, and across a variety of drive cycles and decarbonization scenarios.
Cumulative greenhouse gas emissions versus vehicle mileage for (a) internal combustion engine and battery electric sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks, and (b) hybrid electric and battery electric sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. The lower and higher limits of each range are results for base and premium models, respectively. Woody et al.
… there is substantial variation in emissions based on where and when a vehicle is charged and operated, due to the impact of ambient temperature on fuel economy and the spatiotemporal variability in grid carbon intensity across the United States. Regionally, BEV pickup GHG emissions are 13%–118% of their ICEV counterparts and 14%–134% of their HEV counterparts across US counties. BEVs have lower GHG emissions than HEVs in 95%–96% of counties and lower GHG emissions than ICEVs in 98%–99% of counties. As consumers migrate from ICEVs and HEVs to BEVs, accounting for these spatiotemporal factors and the wide range of available vehicle classes is an important consideration for electric vehicle deployment, operation, policymaking, and planning.—Woody et al.
This is an important study to inform and encourage climate action. Our research clearly shows substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be achieved from transitioning to electrified powertrains across all vehicle classes.
This study expands upon previous studies that have focused on comparing battery-electric vehicle sedans to their internal-combustion-engine or hybrid counterparts. We report emissions for vehicle production, use, and end-of-life stages on a per-mile basis and over the total vehicle lifetime. In addition, we analyzed the regional variation in emissions considering differences in electricity grid mixes and ambient temperatures, and we also explored the effects of the rate of grid decarbonization on emission reduction.—Greg Keoleian, a professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability and director of the U-M Center for Sustainable Systems
Researchers looked at three different model year 2020 powertrain options—internal-combustion-engine vehicles, hybrid-electric vehicles, and battery-electric vehicles—for midsize sedans, midsize SUVs, and full-size pickup trucks, accounting for differences in fuel economy, annual mileage, vehicle production, and vehicle lifetime across vehicle classes.
The researchers found that switching an internal-combustion-engine vehicle to a battery-electric vehicle results in greater total tonnage of emissions reductions as the vehicle size increases, due to the greater fuel consumption of larger vehicles.
The researchers also found that battery-electric vehicles have larger greenhouse gas emissions in their manufacturing than internal-combustion-engine vehicles, due to battery production, but this impact is offset by savings in their operation. For battery-electric vehicles and internal-combustion-engine vehicles, the breakeven time is 1.2 to 1.3 years for sedans, 1.4 to 1.6 years for SUVs, and 1.3 years for pickup trucks, based on the average US grid and vehicle miles traveled.
Vehicle emissions vary across the country, as different temperatures and different drive cycles affect a vehicle’s fuel economy. For electric vehicles, the emissions intensity of the local electricity grid is also an important factor. The study developed maps to show the lifetime grams of carbon dioxide equivalent/mile for each powertrain (internal-combustion-engine vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and battery-electric vehicles) and vehicle type (sedan, SUV, and pickup truck) by county across the United States.
Researchers found that concerns about battery-electric vehicles having higher emissions than internal-combustion-engine vehicles or hybrids are largely unfounded, as battery-electric vehicles outperform hybrids in 95% to 96% of counties, while battery-electric vehicles outperform internal-combustion-engine vehicles in 98% to 99% of counties, even assuming only modest progress towards grid decarbonization.
Charging strategies can further reduce battery-electric vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. The study found that charging during the hours of the day with the lowest grid emissions intensity can reduce emissions by 11% on average.
This study was supported by Ford Motor Company through a Ford-University of Michigan Alliance Project Award.
Maxwell Woody et al. (2022) “The role of pickup truck electrification in the decarbonization of light-duty vehicles” Environ. Res. Lett. 17 034031 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac5142
So electrifying larger vehicles removes more c02 than electrifying smaller ones - hardly earth shattering news.
Or you could just use a smaller ICE car like a vw Golf tdi, or a Prius or Corolla Hybrid.
It is a pity you can't plot individual cars on the charts,
Also, note that they separate the ICE vs BEV and HEV vs BEV charts.
I will agree with them that charging strategies based on the lowest grid co2 levels will help, but this will be different in every state and every individual's condition.
I.e. if you live in a sunny state, you will want to charge in the middle of the day, when you might be at work - does your place of employment allow this ?
If you live in a duller, windy place (Scotland / Ireland), you might want to charge at night when there is less demand for whatever electricity is being generated.
Here, it gets complicated, particularly with larger (50 kWh+) batteries when you could charge once or twice a week - are you organised enough to plan to do this when the wind is blowing?
(Ask Bob Dylan for the answer to that one).
Posted by: mahonj | 05 March 2022 at 03:06 AM
So clean air depends on how clean the grid is when it's used!
I don't understand why this common knowledge is a revelation.
Posted by: Lad | 05 March 2022 at 12:50 PM
It not only depends on what is done but more so how it is done. I have a 150 kWh battery buffer underneath the garage where the oil tanks used to be with access from the garden. It also serves as an emergency supply in case of grid failure.
I don't make long trips any more so 99.9 % of my charging occurs at home. My car battery has 68 kWh and can be charged any time at day or night. The 16 kWp PV system on my roof top is more than sufficient to supply the necessary electric energy all year around for home and car. Hot water and heating is provided via heat pumps. Surplus energy averages to approx. 4 to 5 thousand kWh per annum and is fed into the grid. I don't need gas nor oil from Putin. Do you have energy problems? I don't.
Posted by: yoatmon | 06 March 2022 at 03:25 AM
@Yoatmon, not everyone has a 150 kWh battery under their garage, nor could they as they have not the money or the space.
Ditto the 16 kW PV system.
It is nice for you, but it doesn't scale.
However, more batteries etc. at grid level could scale, or at least allow more renewables on the grid.
However, in most countries, you will need to augment this with some dispatchable source, such as gas or coal.
The trick being to minimize the amount of gas/coal required so the price of these sources has a minimal effect on the grid average price.
Posted by: mahonj | 06 March 2022 at 09:46 AM
You're only partially right; it's also a matter of setting priorities. Some of my neighbors had just enough money for a PV system but went on vacation 2 or 3 times a year; my wife and I contended ourselves with a vacation once every three or four years. Our priorities differed from those of others.
As an electric engineer, I designed and installed everything myself. The costs were limited to the hardware expenses. In that aspect, I was lucky to have chosen the right career.
Posted by: yoatmon | 06 March 2022 at 10:21 AM
Well done; you should publish your designs, or general guidance.
Take a holiday now, while you can still fly!
Posted by: mahonj | 06 March 2022 at 11:50 AM
Do you mind if I ask how much the battery cost per kWh, and for the control systems?
IMO, most people under size their PV battery and so lose a lot of energy.
Posted by: mahonj | 06 March 2022 at 11:52 AM
I really don't care too much for flying or vacationing. All the business trips I made during my working life have dampened my enthusiasm for flying and believe me it's all but fun to live out of a suitcase.
I'm using saltwater batteries and incl. the control system cost about $107.00 per kWh. They're large and heavy but suited for their purpose.
Posted by: yoatmon | 07 March 2022 at 02:53 AM
Thanks, I have just had a mini-crash course in Na Ion batteries (wikiP).
Who did you get them from - Aquion? Natron, Altris?
Anyone who can get low cost energy storage with no obvious weaknesses should do well, but as we can see from watching this site for the last 15 or so years; there is a lot of news, but rather slow progress (except in price) (up to now, anyhow).
As you say, stationary storage does not require low weight batteries.
Posted by: mahonj | 07 March 2022 at 06:14 AM
Green rock has some used for solar
Posted by: SJC | 07 March 2022 at 02:51 PM