Scania embracing life cycle assessment of battery-powered distribution vehicles

Mon 14 June 2021 View all news

Zemo Partnership member Scania has published a life cycle assessment of distribution vehicles. It concludes that the life cycle impact of battery-powered vehicles is "significantly lower" than comparable vehicles with an internal combustion engine. 

Andreas Follér, Head of Sustainability at Scania said: “As the heavy commercial vehicle industry converts into a higher share of battery electric vehicles, we have to ask ourselves, are the battery electric vehicles truly good for the environment when we look over the full life cycle? The impact generated is not from the tailpipe emissions, so the industry needs to rethink what we mean by environmental impact. With this study, we have the clear answers”.

Scania's study shows that the production of the battery electric vehicle entails a higher environmental impact, mainly due to energy intensive battery cell manufacturing. Despite the increased production burden, the total life cycle impact on climate change is dramatically better for the battery electric vehicles, thanks to the much lower carbon impact from the use phase. 

For trucks operating in EU, the study shows that life cycle carbon emissions are reduced by 38% (EU electricity mix 2016) to 63% (anticipated EU electricity mix 2030). Switching to green electricity, the study shows that carbon emission reductions over the life cycle of 86% can be achieved. This means that a battery electric vehicle has the potential to provide a carbon emission 'payback' within one or two years of operation.

Scania’s Life Cycle Assessment is an ISO 14040/44 method to calculate the environmental impacts of products or services over their entire life cycle: in this case the vehicle and battery production, use, maintenance and recovery. 

Andy Eastlake, Zemo Partnership's MD said: “ This really transparent LCA report from Scania corroborates the work Zemo has done on LCA GHG assessment.  Even with the production impact of a BEV truck currently almost double that of the conventional ICE, operating on the UK's current electricity mix the full life cycle GHG would be 50-60% lower than a conventional fossil diesel-powered vehicle. The work also clearly shows how bringing cell and battery production into the UK and Europe, can substantially reduce the production impacts.”

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