Life-cycle analysis shows lighter vehicles can enhance contribution of electrification to climate goals, a new study shows.

A new study from transport decarbonisation specialists, Zemo Partnership, uses life-cycle analysis (LCA) to compare the greenhouse gas emissions performance of powered light vehicles (PLV), including powered two wheelers (PTW), with larger vehicles, focusing mainly on urban areas.

Zemo’s study, commissioned by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), the representative body for powered two-, three- and four-wheeled light vehicles, assessed eight typical use cases where PLVs could replace traditional cars and vans. The work considered both traditional ICE (combustion engine) vehicles and BEV (battery electric) versions.

The research found that in almost every use case, where the load requirements enable use of a PLV, substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings were delivered. It also revealed that ‘significant benefits’ can be gained by using electric zero emission PLVs which require smaller batteries, have lower GHG production impacts and lower energy requirements in use.

In higher mileage applications, the benefits of zero tailpipe emissions operation are amplified even using today’s grid electricity, but for very low mileage use the embedded GHG of a BEV means battery size is critical, according to the report.

Commenting on the research, Andy Eastlake, Zemo Partnership CEO, said: ‘There’s a great opportunity to decarbonise transport through the use of smaller lighter vehicles and to multiply the gains we can achieve through electrification

‘We should embrace PLVs as a key part of the spectrum of road transport solutions, which of course range from active, shared and public transport, through to cars, vans and HGVs.

‘Detailed life-cycle assessment is a fundamental consideration in the context of transport decarbonisation but is critically dependent on the assumptions around vehicle lifetime, mileage and battery replacement as well as the rate of decarbonisation of the electricity grid over time.’