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Garrett Motion white paper tackles key question regarding vehicle CO2 emissions: “Is the automotive industry’s transition to ‘all-electric’ the most effective way to decarbonise European transport?”

Garrett Motion Inc., a differentiated technology provider for the automotive industry, has published a white paper titled “Is the automotive industry’s transition to 100 percent electric vehicles the most effective way to decarbonize European transport?”

ROLLE, Switzerland (November 20, 2023) – Garrett Motion Inc. (Nasdaq: GTX), a differentiated technology provider for the automotive industry, has published a white paper titled “Is the automotive industry’s transition to 100 percent electric vehicles the most effective way to decarbonize European transport?” The study compares the CO2 emissions generated by battery electric vehicles versus hybrid vehicles throughout their lifecycle, including the manufacture and use of these vehicles.

The objective of this study is to evaluate the years of use required for a battery electric vehicle to off-set the amount of CO2 generated during its life cycle (manufacture and use) compared to different types of hybrid vehicles. Most emissions are released during the battery manufacturing process. The larger the battery capacity, the higher the CO2 emissions. Hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles, by comparison, have batteries of smaller capacity. Therefore, emissions related to their manufacture are lower than 100 percent electric BEVs.

“We are all pursuing the same goal of reducing total vehicle emissions to achieve Net Zero. Electrification is essential to reduce CO2 emissions. But, as our study shows, for certain use cases some technologies can be less polluting than 100 percent electric vehicles. It is therefore crucial for consumers to be able to choose the electrified solution that best suits their intended use. The 100 percent electric solution adopted only in Europe is by far not the best option to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Olivier Rabiller, chairman and CEO of Garrett.

Garrett Motion’s vehicle lifecycle study captures real-world CO2 emissions data from the European car market, by type of vehicle and by use.

Garrett’s analysis complements the findings of other LCA studies by evaluating factors including a wide range of electrified technologies (100 percent electric, mild hybrid, hybrid, plug-in hybrid), different vehicle segments (compact, SUV, sports vehicle, and light commercial vehicle), the actual average vehicle usage in Europe as well as the intensity of electric power generation for production and battery charging.

Vehicle categories:

  • Mild hybrid (MHEV)
  • 100% Hybrid (FHEV)
  • Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
  • Battery electric vehicle (BEV)

Types of vehicles:

  • C-segment (compact sedan)
  • C-segment SUV
  • Sport Coupe
  • Light commercial vehicle

Types of use (mileage) of the vehicle per year:

  • High mileage – More than 20,000 km/year
  • Average mileage – 11,000 km/year or less
  • Low mileage – 8,000 km/year, 4,000 km/year or less (2,500 km/year for sports cars)

Garrett Motion’s vehicle lifecycle study shows that the actual use of a vehicle is a determining factor in calculating its environmental impact.

Throughout its lifecycle (manufacture and use), the use of a vehicle, regardless of its technology, is a determining factor when calculating its real-world energy and environmental performance. Depending on the use, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric technologies may emit more or fewer CO2. A few examples:

  • In Europe, 60 percent of cars travel 11,300 km per year or less. For this purpose, it will take at least 12 years for a popular C-segment sedan to reach the equilibrium point of the total CO2 emissions of an electric vehicle, compared to a plug-in hybrid vehicle. This means that for any C-segment vehicle that travels less than these 11,300 km, the equilibrium point favorable to the battery electric vehicle will be pushed back in time. This duration lengthens for vehicles of greater weight, battery capacity and increasing autonomy.
  • Plug-in hybrids are the least CO2-emitting choice compared to battery electric vehicles: o For the C-segment sedan driver who drives 4000 km or less per year, about 20 percent of European drivers.
    For the C-segment SUV driver who drives 8,000 km or less per year, about 35 percent of European drivers.
  • For the driver who drives at least 20,000 km per year (10 percent of European drivers), the choice of 100-percent electric vehicle becomes preferable after 5 years of use.

Aligning the battery size of an electrified technology with the intended daily use, versus the occasional long trip, is ideal to avoid excess battery capacity and unnecessary emissions. For typical daily vehicle use in Europe, hybrids with low-capacity batteries outperform BEVs with oversized batteries in terms of minimizing emissions.

Thus, most battery electric vehicles have no intrinsic advantage over other electrified technologies in terms of total CO2 emissions over their lifetime. In fact, ongoing efforts to increase the autonomy of BEVs without accounting for C02 generated during production and for intended real-world uses can be counterproductive to emission reduction goals.

Garrett’s LCA study suggests that, to meet the challenge of CO2 reductions as effectively as possible, battery electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles should be used together, in a complementary way to meet a wide variety of daily uses. Hence, the study concludes that the “100 percent BEV” mandates, such as the one to be implemented in Europe by 2035, is not an optimal solution to reduce the environmental impact of cars and commercial vehicles.

This study does not take into account key challenges beyond lifecycle CO2 emissions, such as the extraction of minerals needed to manufacture batteries and the costs associated with vehicle electrification. Electrification costs represent a major obstacle for widespread adoption and are mainly associated with the size of the battery and the materials required (e.g., copper, lithium, cobalt, graphite). Notably, cost reductions expected from mass battery production yielding economies of scale remain small, as a result of material price volatility and inflation triggered by growing demand.

Considering the contribution of batteries to the costs passed on to consumers, the above is further evidence of the importance of optimizing battery sizes according to the intended daily use, with hybrids and plug-in hybrids offering cost-efficient alternatives in many cases.

Garrett’s LCA methodology, additional insights

With this study, Garrett Motion intends to contribute to the conversation around the LCA methodology as a tool to better-measure total emissions and to encourage others to consider real-world criteria, such as vehicle usage, in calculating the environmental impact of the various electrified technologies.

Vehicle lifecycle assessments are a complex, dynamic task that analyzes CO2 emissions beyond tailpipe or exhaust emissions. It generally accounts for three lifecycle stages: (1) Manufacturing (e.g., mineral extraction, production and transport of batteries and vehicles; (2) Vehicle use (e.g., electricity consumption based on the mix of energy production; fuel drilling, refining, distribution and combustion emissions; and (3) Recycling (dismantling, disposal, second life).

Battery electric vehicles generate the greatest amount of CO2 during the production and recycling stage, while electrified hybrid vehicles generate more CO2 during the use stage. Garrett’s study analyzed the first two stages of a vehicle’s lifecycle, taking into account emissions related to the production and use of the vehicle. The study does not consider in its calculations the third stage of LCA, recycling and disposal of the vehicle, due to its relatively low contribution to overall emissions, but also due to the lack of pan-European data.

SOURCE: Garrett Motion

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