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15 February 2023

Ricardo commissioned to define a single harmonised European life cycle assessment standard for zero emission vehicles and batteries

Building on its seminal vehicle life cycle assessment study for the European Commission, Ricardo is now working with consortium partners on the definitive European standard for life cycle assessment for zero emission vehicles and batteries.

Ricardo, a global strategic environmental and engineering consulting company, has commenced a European Union-funded project to develop a baseline for a European-wide commonly accepted and applied single life cycle assessment (LCA) approach for zero emission vehicles (ZEV) and batteries based on evidence and real-world data. This initiative is a Coordination and Support Action supported under the Horizon Europe Framework Programme and has also received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

Currently, there is no agreed European or international standard on vehicle life cycle assessment, although there are a number of standards in draft or being developed for electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Defining a single, harmonised life cycle assessment approach for vehicles and batteries is key to providing transparency and comparability of impacts from these products. This will help to achieve Green Deal targets, making Europe the first digitally enabled circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy.  Harmonised standards will facilitate industry, mobility providers and planners to develop sustainable road transport products that are optimised to combat climate change. Ricardo is on the core team of the collaborative TranSensus LCA consortium – jointly coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF and the Fraunhofer-Institution of Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST– which comprises 44 stakeholders from industry and research along the full value chain of zero emission vehicles and batteries including: research institutions, vehicle and battery manufacturers, the supply industry, energy providers and recyclers. 

Nikolas Hill, Head of Vehicle Technologies and Fuels in Ricardo’s Sustainable Transport team said: “The major report on life cycle impacts of road vehicles that Ricardo undertook for the European Commission in 2020 highlighted the importance of life cycle assessment in sustainable product and business development, but also the challenges for its application. In particular, efforts fully to use and realise the benefits from life cycle assessment approaches by the transport sector are being hampered because there is not an official European standard for vehicle LCA. This is largely because of a lack of a consistent, fair framework or harmonised methodology, plus limitations in accessing and managing real-world data and applying consistent modelling. Through our work with our industry and research partners on this project, Ricardo policy, strategy and technology experts will help to deliver a standard, trustworthy and consistent assessment of full vehicular environmental footprints, to support organisations across the transport value chain progress their objective of achieving climate neutrality.”

Ricardo’s 2020 report for the European Commission, DG Climate Action: Determining the environmental impacts of conventionally and alternatively fuelled vehicles through LCA was the broadest and most comprehensive study of its kind to date.  The report assessed the life cycle impacts of 65 different European light- and heavy-duty vehicle types and powertrain combinations. It considered the production of 60 fuel chains for conventional and alternative fuels as well as 14 different forms of electricity generation, the impacts of vehicle (and battery) manufacturing, and vehicle use and maintenance including different ‘end of life’ scenarios. The report also highlighted the positive impact of existing European Union policy in directly supporting the move to a more circular economy and the initiatives aimed at developing a sustainable value chain for hybrid and fully electric vehicles and their batteries in driving down industrial emissions and improving resource efficiency. 


Download the press release.