Determining the environmental impacts of conventional and alternatively fuelled vehicles through LCA

Road transport is an important contributor to several environmental issues, including air pollution and climate change. The EU has set challenging objectives for tackling these. To help support decision making on mitigating actions in the transport sector it is paramount to develop a better understanding of the environmental impacts of road vehicles over their entire lifecycle. This project has summarised a range of vehicle life-cycle assessment (LCA) studies available in the public domain and developed a policymaker-oriented LCA methodology for light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The final report covers a selection of major powertrain types and fuel chains for the 2020 to 2050 timeframe. The study has combined state-of-the art vehicle LCA with novel methodological choices to develop results for a range of environmental impacts for 14 electricity chains, 60 fuel chains, and 65 generic vehicle/powertrain combinations across 7 vehicle types. It has also provided several suggestions for policy-makers, based on these results, especially recommendations for future LCA research.

In broad terms, the analysis shows that xEV powertrains have the lowest environmental impacts across all vehicle types and most impact categories, with BEVs consistently performing better than all other powertrains. The higher impacts in some categories for xEVs are generally due to the use of particular materials (particularly copper and electronic components). The analysis also demonstrates that xEV benefits in terms of lower environmental impacts vary depending on regional and operational circumstances.


July 2018 – June 2020


European Commission, DG Climate Action




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