Publication Details

Title : Cradle-to-Grave Lifecycle Analysis of U.S. Light-Duty Vehicle-Fuel Pathways: A Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Assessment of Current (2015) and Future (2025-2030) Technologies
Publication Date : June 01, 2016
Authors : A. Elgowainy, J. Han, J. Ward, F. Joseck, D. Gohlke, A. Lindauer, T. Ramsden, M. Biddy, M. Alexander, S. Barnhart, I. Sutherland, L. Verduzco, T.J. Wallington
Abstract : This study provides a comprehensive lifecycle analysis (LCA), or cradle-to-grave (C2G) analysis, of the cost and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a variety of vehicle-fuel pathways, as well as the levelized cost of driving (LCD) and cost of avoided GHG emissions. This study also estimates the technology readiness levels (TRLs) of key fuel and vehicle technologies along the pathways. The C2G analysis spans a full portfolio of midsize light-duty vehicles (LDVs), including conventional internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). In evaluating the vehicle-fuel combinations, this study considers both low-volume and high-volume (CURRENT TECHNOLOGY) cases (nominally 2015) and a high-volume (FUTURE TECHNOLOGY) lower-carbon case (nominally 2025–2030). For the CURRENT TECHNOLOGY case, low-volume vehicle and fuel production pathways are examined to determine costs in the near term. The pathway approach selected for this study is not necessarily constrained by practical feedstock, economic, policy, and market considerations, though only pathways of sufficient technological readiness were included. This is in contrast with a scenario approach, which postulates a specific vehicle-fuel production pathway or a mix of pathways that factor in real or hypothetical/perceived feedstock, economic, policy, and market considerations. As such, this study strictly focuses on possible vehicle-fuel combination pathways (i.e., no scenario analysis was conducted). The fuel pathways considered in this study are shown in Table ES-1. The selected fuel pathways were constrained to those deemed to be scalable to at least approximately 10% of LDV fleet demand in the future. The C2G greenhouse gas emissions evaluation was carried out by expanding and modifying the GREET (Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation) model suite (2014 version) with inputs from industrial experts. This C2G GHG assessment includes both fuel and vehicle production life cycles. Cost assessments represent a final cost to the consumer, excluding tax on the final product (e.g., fuel sales tax) and/or credits (e.g., vehicle subsidies). Where available, current and future fuel cost estimates are from the 2015 DOE Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO). Otherwise, cost assessment is based on publicly available data and models, such as techno-economic analysis (TEA) models developed by DOE and its national laboratories, using a standard set of assumptions to ensure that evaluations are consistent across fuel pathways, although some of the biofuel pathways are evaluated based on external modeling and analysis reported in the literature. The modeling of various vehicle technologies, current and future, included powertrain configuration, component sizing, cost, and fuel economy and was performed with the Autonomie model. Autonomie is a modeling package that uses performance attributes of vehicle components to size components for a given vehicle configuration and vehicle performance attributes (e.g., time to accelerate from 0–60 mph, maximum speed, etc.), and to simulate fuel economy over various driving cycles. These fuel economies served as an input for this analysis and are presented in Table 36 and Figure 11 in Section 6.3. The component sizes and vehicle fuel economy results were incorporated into the GREET model to evaluate GHG emissions of vehicle production and fuel cycles, respectively, while the vehicle costs were used to evaluate the LCD. This report uses Autonomie manufacturing cost estimates that assume production at volume; however, it is important to recognize that the initial manufacture of advanced powertrain vehicles is likely to incur additional costs beyond those estimated at large scale. Accordingly, low-volume vehicle cost estimates of the CURRENT TECHNOLOGY case provide context for the high-volume estimates by serving as an indication of the degree to which low-volume manufacturing could affect vehicle cost, LCD, and cost of abated carbon.

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