This wide-ranging life-cycle assessment (LCA) examines the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of passenger cars, including SUVs. Performed separately and in depth for Europe, the United States, China, and India, the analysis captures the differences among those markets, which are home to about 70% of global new passenger car sales. It considers present and projected future GHG emissions attributable to every stage in the life cycles of both vehicles and fuels, from extracting and processing raw materials through refining and manufacture to operation and eventual recycling or disposal.
In addition to its global scope, the study is methodologically comprehensive in considering all relevant powertrain types, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and an array of fuel types including biofuels, electrofuels, hydrogen, and electricity. The life-cycle GHG emissions of cars registered in 2021 are compared with those of cars expected to be registered in 2030. In addition, this study is distinct from earlier LCA literature in four key aspects:
Results show that even for cars registered today, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have by far the lowest life-cycle GHG emissions. As illustrated in the figure below, emissions over the lifetime of average medium-size BEVs registered today are already lower than comparable gasoline cars by 66%–69% in Europe, 60%–68% in the United States, 37%–45% in China, and 19%–34% in India. Additionally, as the electricity mix continues to decarbonize, the life-cycle emissions gap between BEVs and gasoline vehicles increases substantially when considering medium-size cars projected to be registered in 2030.