Battery electric vehicles (BEV) are the clear winner when trying to reduce emissions in the transportation sector, according to Rystad Energy research.

The research house said in a statement on Wednesday that despite incurring higher emissions in the manufacturing process of electric vehicles and an enduring reliance on fossil fuel power generation in many countries, the positive environmental impact of switching to a BEV over the vehicle’s lifetime is unmistakable.

Its analysis showed that battery-powered vehicles contribute at most half the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of diesel or gasoline cars across their lifecycle, regardless of the country of operation.

Even in countries where the power grid is dominated by fossil fuels, it said battery-powered cars emit less CO2e than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars over their lifecycle.

As renewable sources replace coal and gas-fired generation, emissions related to the operation of BEVs could drop by 86 percent, it said.

Its in-depth research of lifecycle BEV and ICE vehicle emissions considers every stage of the manufacturing process and the vehicle’s operation.

This includes the manufacturing of the vehicle’s body, known as body in white (BIW), powertrain assembly, maintenance, fuel and electricity-related emissions and battery production for BEVs.

The research house is conscious that there are often societal and humanitarian impacts associated with EV manufacturing, battery production and associated mining.

However, this research is purely focused on the emissions comparison between battery electric and traditional-fuel vehicles.

Under its base case scenario for power generation in China in the next 20 years, it said the lifecycle emissions of a BEV are about 39 tonnes of CO2e versus almost 85 tonnes for an ICE vehicle.

It said the difference in the United States is even starker, with a BEV emits 42 tonnes of CO2e across its life in the country, 58 percent lower than a gasoline or diesel vehicle that emits more than 100 tonnes.

Of these totals, it said emissions related to the extraction, refining and burning of fossil fuels contribute about 90 percent of all ICE emissions.

The breakdown of emissions across a battery-powered vehicle’s life is directly tied to its electricity consumption and how that power is generated, it added.

“Overall, battery electric vehicles are clearly the right technology to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Switching to a BEV will reduce long-term emissions despite a larger environmental impact at the beginning of the vehicle’s life,

“Contrary to some claims, electric car adoption is not a fool’s errand; it will slash emissions in the long run and accelerate the energy transition,” said Abhishek Murali, Senior Clean Tech Analyst Rystad Energy.

It is noted that the research house selected five countries for its analysis – China, the United States, India, Germany and France – due to their diverse transportation factors like driving patterns, type of vehicle dominant in each country and varying power mixes, both historical and forecast.

Germany and France were chosen to reflect the European market in general and assess different power mixes, keeping other factors mostly similar.

It used our base case power generation forecast for each country when evaluating lifecycle emissions to accurately reflect the evolving nature of electricity generation and its impact on BEV emissions.

Each vehicle is expected to last 18 years, after which age most vehicles are scrapped.

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