how sustainable is…
This study compares the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of plug-in hybrid vehicles to conventional (petrol driven) vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles (i.e. non plug-in hybrids). The study considers the GHGs emissions of the different vehicle types from both manufacturing (including the manufacturing of the battery) and from their use.
The study finds that the majority of GHGs are emitted during the use of the vehicle. In other words, the GHG emissions from manufacturing are relatively small in comparison.
If electricity from the grid (plug-in) is used to drive a vehicle, then the GHG emissions of the “electricity mix” (i.e. of the different sources of electricity fed into the grid) need to be taken into account for the overall GHG emissions of the vehicle. The study suggests that for the electricity mix in the US, plug-in hybrids can reduce the GHG emissions during the vehicle use by about 40% compared to conventional combustion vehicles. The study notes however, that this result is highly dependent on how the electricity was generated. For example, the study states that if the electricity was largely generated from carbon intensive fuels such as coal, the use of plug-in hybrid vehicles could increase, not reduce, the overall GHG emissions compared to conventional cars.
While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.
what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?
If you are able to buy electricity generated largely from renewable fuels, using a plug-in hybrid vehicle will significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, compared to a conventional petrol or diesel driven vehicle. Note that the electricity mix does not only change with location but usually also depends on the time of day (or night). In other words, if you were to use a plug-in hybrid vehicle and charge it at night, when prices may be low and you don’t use the vehicle, you may want to check that the electricity over this period is not generated from a more carbon intensive fuel such as coal as may be the case during the day.
Report Rating: 3 out of 3
Report Published: 2008
Author(s): Constantine Samaras, Kyle Meisterling
Publisher: Oregon State University, Department of Physics
Funder: not known
Keywords: life cycle analysis, LCA, cradle to grave analysis, environmental footprint, electric vehicle, plug-in-hybrid, hybrid, car, internal combustion engine (ICE), fuel, mobility, travel, drive, electricity, power, motor, transport
Share this page using: