Abstract

Concise abstractElectric vehicles (EVs) can reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, given the planned electric grid decarbonization. Regulations can also reduce internal combustion engine vehicle's (ICEVs) emissions by mandating increased fuel economies or ethanol-gasoline mixes. Factors such as fuel economy, electricity grid mix, vehicle choice, and temperature affect EV GHG emissions relative to ICEVs, and successfully decarbonizing the transportation sector depends on understanding their combined effects. We use life-cycle assessment to compare the EV and ICEV well-to-wheel GHG emissions in the United States and four other states from 2018 to 2030. We found lower emissions for EVs than ICEVs in most conditions considered. In New York state, where natural gas power plants replace nuclear energy, GHG emissions of electricity generation increase over time after 2020. Future ICEVs can have comparable emissions to EVs due to fuel economy increase. Therefore, EV and ICEV can together lower transportation GHG emissions at a faster pace. Extended abstractTransportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be reduced by (a) increasing the share of electric vehicles (EVs) and (b) reducing GHG emissions of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) by mandating increased fuel economies or ethanol-gasoline mixes. Factors, such as fuel economy, electricity grid mix, vehicle choice, and temperature affect EVs' relative GHG emissions compared to ICEVs, and understanding their combined effect is necessary for a successful decarbonization of the transportation sector. We used life-cycle assessment to evaluate the simultaneous effect of the above-mentioned factors on the well-to-wheel GHG emissions of EVs and ICEVs from 2018 to 2030. The analysis was performed for the United States (US) average and state-level for Arizona, California, New York, and Oregon.Our results showed lower GHG emissions for EVs than ICEVs for most conditions considered. GHG emissions are expected to decrease in the US on average by 5% for EVs and 27% for ICEVs in 2030 compared to 2018. In 2030, the ICEV well-to-wheel GHG emissions were comparable to those of the EVs in the US average and Arizona. EVs perform best in California and Oregon throughout the considered period. In regions, such as New York, EVs driven 2021 and after will have higher GHG emissions than ICEVs, as natural gas power plants are replacing nuclear energy. While EV GHG emissions decrease over time due to grid decarbonization, future ICEVs can lower the GHG emissions, especially for larger vehicles, where EVs might not be the best option. Therefore, EV and ICEV can together lower transportation GHG emissions at a faster pace.

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