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Sustainability 2014, 6(12), 9305-9342;

Towards Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of Alternative Passenger Vehicles

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
Department of Industrial Engineering, Istanbul Sehir University, Istanbul 34662, Turkey
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 October 2014 / Revised: 2 December 2014 / Accepted: 5 December 2014 / Published: 16 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transportation and Sustainability)
PDF [4177 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


Sustainable transportation and mobility are key components and central to sustainable development. This research aims to reveal the macro-level social, economic, and environmental impacts of alternative vehicle technologies in the U.S. The studied vehicle technologies are conventional gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid with four different all-electric ranges, and full battery electric vehicles (BEV). In total, 19 macro level sustainability indicators are quantified for a scenario in which electric vehicles are charged through the existing U.S. power grid with no additional infrastructure, and an extreme scenario in which electric vehicles are fully charged with solar charging stations. The analysis covers all life cycle phases from the material extraction, processing, manufacturing, and operation phases to the end-of-life phases of vehicles and batteries. Results of this analysis revealed that the manufacturing phase is the most influential phase in terms of socio-economic impacts compared to other life cycle phases, whereas operation phase is the most dominant phase in the terms of environmental impacts and some of the socio-economic impacts such as human health and economic cost of emissions. Electric vehicles have less air pollution cost and human health impacts compared to conventional gasoline vehicles. The economic cost of emissions and human health impact reduction potential can be up to 45% and 35%, respectively, if electric vehicles are charged through solar charging stations. Electric vehicles have potential to generate income for low and medium skilled workers in the U.S. In addition to quantified sustainability indicators, some sustainability metrics were developed to compare relative sustainability performance alternative passenger vehicles. BEV has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and ecological land footprint per $ of its contribution to the U.S. GDP, and has the lowest ecological footprint per unit of its energy consumption. The only sustainability metrics that does not favor the BEV is the water-energy ratio, where the conventional gasoline vehicle performed best. View Full-Text
Keywords: life cycle sustainability assessment; electric vehicles; sustainability indicators; sustainable transportation; triple bottom line input-output analysis life cycle sustainability assessment; electric vehicles; sustainability indicators; sustainable transportation; triple bottom line input-output analysis

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Onat, N.C.; Kucukvar, M.; Tatari, O. Towards Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of Alternative Passenger Vehicles. Sustainability 2014, 6, 9305-9342.

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