Electric, Hybrid or Gasoline: Illusion, Fusion or Confusion
Guest Post by Jagmeet Singh, Principal, Manufacturing Management Consulting Services, Infosys Limited
Ok, so here is what the big deal is about. What type of vehicle has the lowest carbon footprint and is most eco-friendly. At first instance, it would look like electric vehicle is the best without a doubt. No tailpipe emissions and hence no harm to the environment. Well, this is not the complete picture. Rather this starts another interesting debate.
What one would miss in taking that call is the source of electric energy that electric vehicle would consume for charging and unfortunately in today's world, the source is still primarily COAL and hence huge amount of carbon emissions right at the source!
By the time one deliberates the above fact, comes another verdict published by Ricardo, which claims "electric and hybrid cars have a higher carbon footprint during production than conventional vehicles, but still offer a lower footprint over the full life cycle". So shall we ignore source and production for the sake of long run and at the same time break the myth/illusion about EVs? This definitely confuses a person who would like to do his or her bit towards a better future.
So, I thought of taking help of mathematical models. And for calculating carbon footprint and environmental impact, the best approach seems to be Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). I looked into research paper, blogs, and many more articles on the subject. I read some very interesting insights ranging from battery type to vehicle weight and fuel type. And the more I read the more I got interested in the subject resulting finally into a confused verdict. Yes, that is right.
Even LCA methodology has some limitations today because of unavailability of an algorithm standard. Not only that, every input factor like country, state and local region power supply generated different results. Some purely focused on the source of power and declared verdict. Others focused on emissions in vehicle use phase and yet others talked about EOL (End Of Lifecycle) to finally make an argument.
Now, if I were to buy vehicle today it would purely be my decision as to what I consider the most important factor to environmental pollution. Be it source of energy, consumer phase, EOL or something else.
What would you consider?