How can our cars become less polluting? An assessment of the environmental improvement potential of cars
This paper presents a systematic overview of the environmental impacts of new average diesel and petrol cars from a life cycle perspective. An analysis of different technical and non-technical improvement options that could be achieved at each stage of a car’s life cycle was performed. The consequences of the adoption of these options on the environment were estimated. The results show that some of the options analysed could have a major positive impact on the vehicle efficiency and induce large improvements of the environmental profile of passenger cars. The highest improvements are achievable through more efficient power trains (including hybrid car), and through lightweight cars. For some options, burden shifts from one car life cycle phase to another, or from one environmental problem to another, can occur. The results show that besides the purely technological options, those that imply behavioural changes by the driver may also reduce the environmental burden substantially.