In this paper it is examined how environmentally friendly conventional and new vehicle technologies are and how their environmental effects can be compared. An automotive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is being performed for small family passenger vehicles in Belgium. Next to the well-to-wheel (WTW) emissions (related to fuel production, distribution and fuel use in the vehicle), the LCA also includes cradle-to-grave emissions (related directly and indirectly to the vehicle production, transportation, maintenance and the end-of-life (EoL) processing of the vehicle). The considered impact categories are: air acidification, eutrophication, human health and greenhouse effect (GHE). Thanks to a range-based modeling system, the variations of the weight of the vehicles, the fuel consumption and the emissions are taken into account. The results show that the battery electric vehicle (BEV) has the best environmental score for all the considered impact categories. Petrol vehicles have the worst impact on the greenhouse effect, but hybridization of the drive train has a positive influence on this impact category. The impact of the hybrid vehicle is considerably lower than of the equivalent petrol vehicle. On the other hand, when assessing the acidification impact, one can notice that the hybrid car has a high impact. Without the recycling of the NiMH battery, the results for the hybrid vehicle would be even higher than for the equivalent petrol vehicle. This is due to the production of the nickel contained in the NiMH battery. Vehicles running on diesel have the highest impact on eutrophication. The tank-to-wheel (TTW) part contributes the most to the overall impact on eutrophication, as a result of the NOX emissions. The evaluation of the impact on human health shows that the petrol vehicle has the highest impact, due to the high NOX, particulate matter (PM) and SOX (WTT) emissions.
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