The life cycle analysis model “eLCAr” was developed at ifeu and is continuously updated. It analyses the environmental impacts of generic vehicles with conventional as well as alternative powertrains over the entire life cycle. The basis is a hierarchical material flow model which contains separate modules for the different phases of the life cycle: vehicle production, use phase (including vehicle maintenance) and end of life options (disposal or recycling). Material and energy supply are included in all stages.
For the assessment of the vehicle production, different component categories are distinguished, such as the vehicle body, engine/motor, batteries and additional concept specific components. Different types of lithium-ion battery cells can be analysed along with estimates for future lithium-sulphur batteries. The principal goal is not to reflect a specific vehicle model, but to make an assessment of average generic vehicle types with a focus on the most relevant materials. The environmental effects associated with the provision of raw materials are primarily based on the EcoInvent database.
Calculating the real world energy consumption and balancing energy supply impacts are key elements of the use phase assessment. The energy consumption can be calculated using a separate vehicle simulation model (VEHMOD) which considers given speed profiles and takes into account auxiliary consumers.
In terms of the energy supply, impacts arising from the production of fuel and electricity from the geological deposits to the tank or to the battery (well-to-tank) are taken into account in the life cycle analyses. This includes the extraction of raw materials, transporting and processing them in refineries or power stations, and onward distribution to the vehicle. The assessment of electricity generation requires a highly differentiated module for calculating electricity supply chains. The basic types of energy sources and power stations are considered as individual modules. This electricity modules are included as standard in all life cycle analyses undertaken by ifeu. The electricity split and key technical characteristics of the power stations can be selected and then calculated in scenarios. The modelling of fuel supply is carried out using a refinery model, which can also consider biofuels and electricity-based fuels.