Emissions mitigation approach XEVs is a smart strategy; ECT studies shows Battery Electric Vehicles make up for higher manufacturing emissions within 18 months of driving
Emission Control Techniques (ECT) have been typically associated with gasoline and diesel engine vehicles for over the last century. The progression of stringent emission norms has enabled innovations that have reformed ECT and have produced cleaner tail pipe emissions. As a result, the automotive industry has deployed step-change reduced emission diesel and gasoline vehicles.
It is also evident that different vehicle platforms in different regions of the world have a variety of ECT that affect the cost and subsequent penetration. The upcoming revised norms, BS VI, in India have integrated staggering innovative technologies with multiple stakeholders labouring for a while to ensure a seamless deployment in the marketplace. In the initial phase, as expected, this change will have an overall cost impact on the consumer.
There have been several private and public forums discussing a widened scope of ECT with the advent of XEVs in the changing footprint of global automotive ecosystem. Tailpipes in XEVs have disappeared, replaced by wiring harnesses, cooling tubes, traction batteries, fuel cells in some cases, and the associated hardware. A study shows 43 % reduction in emissions in EVs compared to their diesel variants.
The emissions mitigation approach, as one lever of the ecosystem, through XEVs is a smart strategy. In most countries, majority of emissions over the lifetime of both electric and conventional vehicles come from vehicle operation, i.e., tailpipe and fuel cycle rather than manufacturing of a vehicle. The exception is in countries like Norway or France, for example, where nearly all electricity comes from near zero sources, such as hydroelectric or nuclear power. However, all end-to-end ECT of EVs may not necessarily bring in a lower value of CO2 g/km compared to some modern-day diesel vehicles.
Further expanding the horizon of ECT studies shows that Battery Electric Vehicles make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within 18 months of driving, and the shorter-range models can offset the extra emissions within six months and continue to outperform conventional passenger vehicles until the end of their lives.
Another dimension of traction battery brings in a different outlook to emissions and safety of on-road and off-road applications. For instance, in Lead-Acid applications, gases produced or released by the batteries, while they are being charged, can be a significant safety concern, especially when the batteries are located or charged in an enclosed or poorly ventilated area, or on the truck. An ECT is needed to control these emissions through techniques that are cost effective, robust with high reliability and safety.
Similarly, some studies of Life Cycle Assessment have indicated that manufacturing of Lithium-Ion batteries produces additional GHG emissions that need to be balanced in the overall ecosystem. The ECT needed to mitigate these emissions may not be directly linked or integrated in a vehicle but certainly these are part of the operating mobility ecosystem of the vehicles.
Should ECT cover the well-to-wheels lifecycle in the new era of XEVs and shared mobility? Such divergent and broad-based perspectives of ECT in the changing mobility ecosystem, though in the early stages, can only be addressed with a transverse intervention of multiple stakeholders to cover the multitude of vehicle platforms. The proposition of an expanded ECT footprint would be more pragmatic especially for technocrats, policy makers and governments due to the fast pace changes in design, skillsets, manufacturing, charging infrastructure, deployment and deeper penetration. The sustainability of varied formats of expanded ECT will be a key success factor in the circular economy of mobility that is continuing to integrate fast paced newer innovations.