The combustion of fossil fuels in the transport sector leads to an aggravation of the air quality along city roads and highways. Urban air quality is a serious problem nowadays as the number of vehicles increases on a yearly basis. With stricter Euro emission regulations, vehicle manufacturers are not meeting the imposed limits and are also disregarding the non-exhaust emissions. This paper highlights the relevance of non-exhaust emissions of passenger vehicles, both conventional (diesel and petrol) or electric vehicles (EV), on air quality levels in an urban environment in Belgium. An environmental life cycle assessment was carried out based on a real-world emission model for passenger cars and fuel refinery data. A cut-off was applied to the models to highlight what emissions, both from the refinery to the exhaust and electricity production for EV, do actually occur within Belgium’s borders. Results show that not much progress has been made from Euro 4 to 6 for conventional vehicles. Electric vehicles pose the best alternative solution as a more environmentally friendly means of transportation. The analysis results target policy makers with the intention that regulations and policies would be developed in the future and target the characterization of non-exhaust emissions from vehicles. These results indicate that EVs offer a valid solution for addressing the urban air quality issue and that non-exhaust emissions should be addressed in future regulatory steps as they dominate the impact spectrum.
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