In the last year, the auto industry has rapidly increased electric vehicle production in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, 58% of U.S. transportation emissions are produced by gas powered light-duty vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. This past month, the University of Michigan partnered with Ford Motor Company to evaluate the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of electric pickup trucks compared with non-electric, gasoline-powered vehicles.
According to Greg Keoleian, a U-M School for Environment and Sustainability professor, “This is an important study to inform and encourage climate action. Our research clearly shows substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be achieved from transitioning to electrified powertrains across all vehicle classes.”
Researchers conducted a cradle to grave life cycle assessment, a methodology used to evaluate natural effects linked to the phases in a product’s life. They compared the implications of pickup truck electrification with those of SUV and sedan electrification. With a focus on evaluating greenhouse gas emissions, researchers compared three 2020 models focusing on sedans, midsize SUVs, full-size pickup trucks with internal combustion engines, and hybrid-electric and battery-electric powertrains. While at the same time, taking into account the differences in fuel economy, annual mileage, vehicle production, and vehicle lifetime across vehicle classes.
- Battery-electric vehicles have approximately 64% lower cradle-to-grave life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than internal-combustion-engine vehicles on average across the United States.
- Switching an internal combustion engine to a battery-electric vehicle has a greater total tonnage of emissions reductions as the vehicle size increases due to the greater fuel consumption of larger vehicles.
- While the percentage savings in emissions remained approximately the same across models, replacing a gas-powered pickup truck with its battery-operated alternative saves consumers 74 metric tons of carbon dioxide through the vehicle’s lifetime, compared to 45 metric tons for a sedan and 56 metric tons for an SUV.
- Charging during off-peak hours of grid emissions intensity can reduce emissions by 11%.