Despite the numerous studies and papers on electric vehicles showing the environmental benefit of these type of mobility, recent articles cast doubts on the robustness of these findings. Life cycle assessment (LCA), which is meant to compare the environmental impact of products against each other, does not provide the guidelines needed to compare different types of powertrains. This has resulted in many different assumptions and boundaries in the various LCA studies, leading to divergence and complexity. A review of LCA studies on electric cars shows between 13 and 250 g CO2-eq/km depending on the boundaries and assumptions of the LCA study. With these values it becomes clear that electric cars are not a straightforward solution towards the 95 g CO2/km target by 2021 and policy makers will have to determine under what conditions electric vehicles might need to be stimulated and moreover under what conditions electric vehicles might be more harmful than helpful.
A methodological standard or guideline is needed for a fair comparison of different powertrains against each other, including the full environmental impact of vehicles as well as impact on human health. This project will focus on how electric vehicles in Sweden should be assessed to be able to determine if electric vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to clean air. The guideline will provide clear and concise instructions for LCAs including what assumptions and input data is fair when considering electric vehicles in Sweden. It is expected that such methodological guide will help researchers in making a fair comparison of different powertrains which will in turn lead to better consumer decisions, provide insights for setting vehicle tax, and might stimulate car manufacturers to produce even more sustainable cars.