A study produced by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has found that Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) can replace cars on three-quarters of all trips, and that each substituted trip would avoid on average 88% of GHG emissions from the substituted vehicle.
The study, which was commissioned by LEVA-EU, a trade association of light electric vehicle distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers, outlines the potential for LEV substitution and the associated environmental benefits by using Germany as a case study.
Specifically, the DLR-study models a scenario in 2030 in which a major modal shift, away from full-sized cars to LEVs, has taken place. For the model, DLR used nine different LEV-types ranging from e-scooters to microcars capable of reaching speeds of 125km/h, all of which were based on vehicles available on the market or set for sale in 2022; and used statistical data from the German 2017-survey “Mobilität in Deutschland”. For each substitutable car trip, DLR chose the lightest LEV that could replace the car, considering a variety of factors such as luggage, passengers, trip length. The calculation of the overall CO2eq emission saving per trip was aggregated for all trips and scaled up to a period of one year for Germany.
The report found that substituting cars and for smaller and lighter electric vehicles for everyday mobility, such as an e-bicycle, a micro e-car or a scooter, would result in the reduction of 57 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, or 44% of GHG emissions produced by car trips.
Moreover, the researchers demonstrated that vehicle battery size and capacity are the most decisive factors for overall GHG emissions from electric vehicles, and that the production of microcars produces about one third of the greenhouse gas emissions of a medium-sized electric car.
“[The study proves that] with the energy it takes to get a loaf of bread from the bakery in an electric car, one can go to the same bakery 100 times in a light, electric vehicle.” – Jan Cappelle, Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering Technology, KU Leuven
Proponents of LEVs have long called for more favourable, more flexible, regulation of LEVs at the European level, notably around so-called ‘type approval. Indeed, whilst legislators are favourable to such reforms, the complex and multifaceted regulation of all road vehicles, notably around safety, means that relevant legislative and regulatory changes will only come to fruition in the fullness of time.
Speaking to the press, LEVA-EU’s manager, Annick Roetynck, claimed that “the study shows that the European Union is making a mistake in ignoring light, electric vehicles. Sustainable mobility and mitigating climate change cannot be achieved by electrifying vehicles only. The vehicles also need to become much lighter […and] legal bottlenecks, particularly in technical legislation, are very seriously hampering the technological and market development of LEVS.”
What do you think of the LEVA-EU and DLR study? Would you switch your car for an LEV? Are regulations insufficiency nimble to effectively deal with innovative technologies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org