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61 cars under review: Green NCAP evaluates their environmental impact and gives the electric cars the winner

The program Green NCAPhosted and supported by the New Vehicle Assessment Program in cooperation with European governments, assesses the ecological impact of vehicles throughout their life cycle. To carry out this work, it has calculated the total emissions estimated by the 61 cars, powered by all kinds of technologies, which have undergone real tests. from 2019 to 2021.

life cycle assessment, or ACL, is the method that estimates the individual emissions of automobiles in each of the processes. It takes into account all resource flows and the energy associated with the productionthe use and the recycling with the aim of predicting the environmental impact throughout its useful life, from obtaining the materials for its manufacture to its final scrapping.

Green NCAP is an independent European initiative that promotes the development of cars that are clean, energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The organization recently announced its first Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in which he judges the real environmental impact of some of Europe’s best-selling cars. Its goal is to help buyers make informed and sustainable decisions.

Calculating the LCA of a car involves making estimates based on available data using a methodology developed by Joanneum Research and peer-reviewed by the Paul Scherrer Institute. According to information provided by Green NCAPa unique feature of this approach is the use of realistic, complete and accurate measurements of vehicles, to estimate the impact of the vehicle use phase. The average energy consumptions, in the most favorable and in the least favorable conditions of the Green NCAP tests, serve as input data for the LCA calculations. They reveal the potential effect of driving style and environmental conditions on the final results.

To obtain the results, Green NCAP calculated the total estimated greenhouse gas emissions over the entire life cycle and the primary energy demand of the 61 cars tested in the program during the period 2019 to 2021. The data includes vehicles of all sizes and types, including conventional, gasoline and diesel, fully electric, and plug-in and non-plug-in hybrid-electric. To match the criteria, a vehicle life of 16 years and a total mileage of 240,000 kilometers.

life cycle report 61 cars green ncap-interior
CO emissions comparisontwo equivalent of different vehicles of similar size and weight equipped with different propulsion systems. Green NCAP image.

Calculations are based on the current forecast of the energy mix average of the 27 member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom, nullifying the effect that the local energy supply has on the LCA values ​​of the cars.

Based on the information obtained and processed by Green NCAP, the results show that the contribution to the total estimated emissions of greenhouse gases and the demand for primary energy, in the different phases and moments of the life cycle, can vary significantly depending on the powertrain.

In the case of conventional vehicles, the burning of fossil fuels during the operational phase accounts for the majority of emissions and life cycle energy demand. This is different for electric cars for which the production phase represents, on average, a greater part of the total, while the emissions in use can vary depending on the energy mix and the part of energy coming from renewable sources and non-renewable that is used for recharging. Electric cars have zero local greenhouse gas emissions and, in general, show the best LCA figures of the European average.

The full result of the Green NCAP study can be found at Press release issued by the organization. However, it seems particularly interesting compare similar vehicles based on weight/size and body shape housing under its hood different propulsion systems.

While electric vehicles do not produce any local emissions while in use, the production, including all electrical and electronic components and the high-voltage battery, generates a significant amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In some cases, adding the estimated GHGs emitted from supplying the electrical energy needed for recharging over their lifetime brings their total lifecycle emissions closer to some of the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. However, reading the data globally, the electric car continues to show the best resultespecially when you add the benefit of recycling your electrical components.

The comparison of the 61 cars carried out by Green NCAP also confirms that the gasoline vehicle has a slight disadvantage compared to diesel, due to its higher fuel consumption. In general, CNG and plug-in hybrid cars give similar emission results during their life cycle, around 40 tons of COtwo. The report concludes that despite relatively low GHG emissions from fuel production, all combustion engine vehicles experience a drawback due to COtwo which is released when fossil fuel is burned.

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