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STUDY: Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emission Assessments of Automotive Materials

Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emission Assessments of Automotive Material: The Example of Mild Steel, Advanced High Strength Steel and Aluminium in Body in White Applications

In this article:

  • Executive summary of the report
  • Peer-reviewed methodology report

The objective of this study, conducted by Dr. Roland Geyer, Professor at University of California Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Management,  is to benchmark, in terms of their life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, vehicle body-in-white designs based on advanced high-strength steels (AHSS), like ULSAB-AVC, as well as aluminium, compared to designs based on mild steel. For this purpose a parametric spreadsheet model has been developed which calculates life cycle GHG emissions attributable to vehicles as a function of their material composition and powertrain characteristics. Using this model, comparisons were made as to the GHG emissions produced over a vehicle life cycle. A key finding of the study states that based on an attributional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and current data uncertainty, there is no conclusive evidence that aluminium-intensive vehicle designs offer any GHG emission savings relative to AHSS-intensive designs like ULSAB-AVC.

The study’s original parametric model has been continually updated with new materials, fuels, and other parameters.  Now referred to as the UCSB Automotive Energy & Greenhouse Gas Model, it has evolved into a full vehicle LCA model, it is available for free download from our website here after 31 March 2017.  We welcome you to use the model and enter your own criteria to assess vehicle GHG emissions.  Also attached is an executive summary of Dr. Geyer’s report as well as a methodology report outlining the study approach.  The study’s methodology  was peer reviewed and accepted in the LCA community.

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