For the same vehicle models with different powertrains, the carbon footprint of the battery-powered E variants is already better than those of the corresponding vehicles with internal combustion engines. In addition, the electric vehicles offer a higher CO2-saving potential in all phases of the product cycle. Furthermore, it is of crucial importance for CO2 emissions whether the propulsion energy is generated from fossil or regenerative sources. This is the result of a certified life cycle assessment (LCA) of the Volkswagen Golf, which compares the CO2 emissions of the different vehicle versions with either an electric or an internal combustion engine.
Carbon dioxide emissions lower in the e-vehicle
In summary, the current Golf TDI (Diesel) emits 140g CO2/km on average over its entire life cycle, while the e-Golf1 reaches 119g CO2/km.
It is evident that in the vehicle with an internal combustion engine most of the emissions occur during the use phase, that is, in the supply chain of the fossil fuel and the combustion. Here the Diesel reaches 111 g CO2/km. A corresponding vehicle with electric drive emits only 62 g CO2/km during this phase, which results from energy generation and supply. In contrast, most emissions from the battery-powered electric vehicle are generated in the productions phase. According to LCA, a Diesel here generates 29 g CO2/km, while 57 g CO2/km were determined for a comparable e-vehicle. The battery production and the complex extraction of raw materials are responsible for this. These emissions account for almost half of the CO2 emissions of the entire life cycle. During the use phase, CO2 emissions depend on the sources of energy production. They decrease all the more, the more regenerative energies are available.
Life cycle assessment as a tool for holistic analysis
Life cycle assessment is an intricate, complex, and internationally standardized procedure to research the ecological balance sheet of vehicles. Among other things, the carbon dioxide emissions are investigated during all product stages of the automobile:
- The emissions generated by the extraction of raw materials, the production of components, and the assembly are included in the production.
- The use phase includes both the emissions of the fuel and electricity supply, and especially those of vehicle operation over 200,000 km.
- Recycling evaluates dismantling and potential savings through recycling.
With the findings from the “Life Cycle Assessment”, Volkswagen can derive additional emission-reducing measures for “Life Cycle Engineering” and specifically optimize the CO2 balance.
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