The environmental safety of a car is currently one of the most important indicators of vehicle competitiveness and quality in the consumer market. Currently, assessment of the ecological properties of vehicles is based on various criteria. In the case of combustion-powered cars, most attention is usually paid to the values characterizing their use, and in terms of environmental assessment, pollutant emissions, and operational fuel consumption are key factors. The current article considers the possibility of using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method to analyze the ecological properties of a passenger car during its operation. A simplified LCA method for vehicles, which, in strictly defined cases, can be used for the analysis of environmental impact and assessment of the energy analysis related to its operation, is presented. For this purpose, a vehicle life cycle model is developed. Data on the operation of 33 passenger cars from different manufacturers with similar operational characteristics, coming from different production periods, are analyzed in detail. The vehicle use model takes into account the environmental load due to fuel consumption and pollutant emissions from the internal combustion engine, as well as processes related to the maintenance of the car. The obtained results show that, from the point of view of a car’s impact on the environment throughout its life cycle, the phase of its operation plays the most important role. For the annual operation period, the results of the analysis lead to the conclusion that, in the assessment of energy inputs and related emissions throughout the life cycle of a passenger car, the mileage of the car, which is determined by both the periodicity of replacement of elements and materials subject to normal wear and the length of the adopted period, is of key importance. For the tested vehicles, both the energy input resulting from fuel consumption as well as CO2
emissions constitute about 94% to 96% of the total input during the annual operation of the vehicle.
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