The Performance of Steel Using Vehicle Emissions Impact Indicator

In order to develop more efficient vehicles, it is important to assess the entire life cycle of the vehicle, right from the design and manufacturing of raw materials to the day it is recycled and disposed of in the scrap yard.

Vehicle emissions impact indicator (Figure 1) is a sophisticated and interactive tool that allows users to make decisions on the type of engines used in their cars, the materials used to manufacture their cars and judge how these factors affect their overall environmental performance with respect to fuel consumption and total life cycle emissions.

Vehicle emissions impact indicator

Figure 1. Vehicle emissions impact indicator

Life Cycle Emissions

Currently, regulations are focused on the emissions that occur while the vehicle is being driven and using fuel, but this is only one part of the vehicles life that generates emissions. Emissions are also generated during various stages of manufacturing, such as extraction of raw material, vehicle manufacturing, production of fuel, and recycling and disposal.

Environmental Impact of Vehicles

When a single part of a vehicle’s lifetime emissions is given more importance, it is possible to make design decisions that can reduce fuel consumption. However, this strategy increases emissions over the total life cycle of the vehicle.

This is attributed to the high emissions that occur during the production and recycling of technologies or materials that are selected. In other words, if more energy is used to make something, then there would be a higher level of emissions.

However, the issue is not solved completely and is transferred to another place in the life cycle. This means, cars are not better in terms of overall environmental performance and may ultimately lead to an even bigger environmental problem. The emission regulation and a life cycle approach to vehicle design can help mitigate the overall environmental impact of vehicles.

Use of Steel on Vehicle Emissions Impact Indicator

Based on solid scientific methodology, vehicle emissions impact indicator is a simple tool that shows technology tradeoffs for a specific set of parameters. Using steel on the indicator may not always be the best option, however the production of other materials such as plastic and aluminium composites can generate up to 20X more emissions. Therefore, a life cycle assessment is required to guide the design decision process which allows automakers to make the right decisions and avoid unintended consequences.

Basic Information on Indicator

Users can compare four different types of engines such as electric, hybrid electric, gasoline, and diesel as well as three different types of materials such as aluminium, advanced high-strength steels, and multi-material.

For example, let us consider that the vehicle is an A/B-Class Sedan, driven for a 200,000km life span of approximately 12 years. In order to better understand the vehicle’s emissions, the entire content of that specific vehicle should be considered. These factors will make the vehicle heavier and utilize more raw materials. The information utilized to produce this graphic was obtained from the Automotive Materials Greenhouse Gas Comparison Model, developed by the University of California at Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science.

End of Life Credits prevent manufacturers from making new material from virgin sources, and are a measure of the CO2 emissions saved by recycling the materials from which the vehicle is manufactured. Since CO2 emissions are often lower for recycling when compared to virgin production, the recyclable product is credited by eliminating the extra emissions, and this credit is deducted from the total emissions of a product.

Fuel fill ups saved refers to the number of times the vehicle owner can avoid going to the fueling station over the course of a year. Such comparisons are quite surprising.


Emissions are determined in kilograms of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents). The idea is to show the impact of each greenhouse gas with respect to the amount of CO2 that would produce the same amount of global warming.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by WorldAutoSteel (World Auto Steel).

For more information on this source, please visit WorldAutoSteel (World Auto Steel).


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