Scania favours battery electric in life-cycle assessment

Study probes environmental impacts of products 'from cradle to grave'

Scania favours battery electric in life-cycle assessment
Scania says over the entire life cycle of a truck, battery electric is the way to go


In Scania's published life cycle assessment (LCA) of distribution vehicles, it concludes that the environmental impact of battery electric vehicles is significantly lower than that of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

LCA is an ISO 14040/44 method to calculate the environmental impacts of products, covering the entire life-cycle from cradle to grave, starting at the extracting and refining of raw materials and ending at the recovery of, in this case, the vehicles. 

"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?" Scania head of development Andreas Follér says.

"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."

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, Scania notes. 

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"For trucks operating in EU, we reduce life-cycle carbon emissions by 38% (EU mix 2016) to 63% (prognosed EU mix 2030)," the truckmaker notes.

"If we switch to green electricity, we reach a carbon emission reduction over the life cycle of 86%.

"The battery electric vehicle has the potential to have less climate impact than the one with an internal combustion engine already within one or two years of operation.

"This covers all investigated electricity mixes in the report.

"The battery cells stands for a bit over 40% of the carbon emissions coming from production of battery electric vehicles.

"There is however a big potential for improved emission levels from the production of battery electric vehicles as the battery industry continuously decarbonises and the use of green electricity continuously increases."

Foller says he expects the total cost of operation for the majority of Scania customers will be positive for battery electric vehicles during this decade, while half its volumes "might well" have an electric driveline by 2030.

"The race towards zero emissions will be about decarbonising the processes and materials needed to assemble the future truck and buses," he adds.

In Scania's LCA, the functional unit used in this study is: 500,000km driven in a representative distribution cycle with an average payload of 6.1 tonnes and is chosen with the aim to reflect and represent a full life of operation for the vehicles.  


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