BEV Makers Could Increase Europe’s CO2 Emissions, Study Warns

Carmakers are steering a BEV powertrain course that could increase Europe’s automotive CO2 emission pressures on global warming.

That’s the warning from automotive engineering specialist IAV during it’s Digital Tech Day 2021 that also said diesel must be returned to favor among fleets if CO2 targets are to be met. The Tier 1 supplier presented its conclusions following extensive research models assessing the whole life-cycle of variously powered vehicles in European fleets from now until 2035.

The findings presented by IAV’s Marc Sens, senior-vice president, advanced development powertrain, used models based on the meridian of a mid-sized crossover with medium weight and modest performance. The models revealed that should the fleets of 2035 meet automaker’s predictions of the mix of ICE, hybrid and full BEV powertrains, CO2 levels cannot fall from where they are today but, instead, rise slightly.

Models that showed a smaller take-up of BEVs had little effect on the overall increase, while only a return to an ever-evolving ICE powertrain, particularly diesel, will see a decline in CO2 emissions. A greater use of hydrogen, even when produced from unsustainable ‘blue’ sources, and increasing levels of carbon-neutral bio fuels feeding fossil fueled ICE vehicles, would see the biggest reduction in CO2 emissions, the study claims. It now warns that to avoid increased CO2 outputs in 15 years:

  • Efficiency improvements are needed across all powertrain technologies;
  • Increasing ICE efficiency will have a big impact on lowering CO2 emissions;
  • BEV technology alone cannot achieve lower emissions by 2035;
  • Hydrogen powertrains, even using blue instead of green production methods, will lower emissions;
  • PHEVs should be used instead of BEVs for long distance deployment because they require smaller batteries;
  • Increasing the fleet of diesel powertrains is vital in reducing CO2 in the short and medium term;
  • Vehicle durability and extended life-cycles must be promoted to reduce CO2;
  • Increased use of second generation bio fuels in ICE will have the biggest impact in lower fleet CO2 in the next 15 years.

Sens stressed: “On the assumption we go back to the diesel share of the market we had five years ago, you would see the CO2 equivalent of the fleets, even including a high share of petrol-electric mobility, would help us to drastically lower the CO2 footprint of the mobility in Europe. We need to have a technology mix because we cannot rely on just one specific technology introducing it into the market as quickly as possible and hoping we get a lower CO2 fleet fuel consumption.”

To illustrate the company’s on-going ICE development he referred to its work with Phase Change Cooling which works on engine heat management like pouring a warm beer into an ice cold glass – within just three minutes the beer falls from 23C to 6C. In the ICE powertrain the transfer of heat around the critical combustion areas and be used to pre-heat coolant for cold starts and draw excess heat away at working temperatures to lower emissions. Other technologies being explored is the company’s exhaust systems’ e-catalyst for mild and hybrid systems and its in-exhaust fuel burner system.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


  1. Avatar Erling Roberts 25th March 2021 @ 2:00 pm

    I clicked on this looking for a compelling reason for the title assertion. Nothing but a plug for improved ICE technology. I am VERY friendly to ICE but would appreciate understanding why BEV does not help CO2.

  2. Avatar STEVE WHITE 5th April 2021 @ 5:15 pm

    It would have not taken up much article space to explain why BEV’s do not significantly reduce CO2, especially when they are ‘Zero” in use, like perhaps the CO2 generating in mining & producing batteries? Sadly that detail was missing.

    • TU-Editor TU-Editor 6th April 2021 @ 6:38 am

      This is a news article not a white paper. Also the reasons for questioning a BEV’s ‘zero’ emissions claims are all very well known in the industry already. The point of the article was that a respected auto specialist had compiled life-cycle data to suggest the technology will accelerate CO2 emissions. For the indepth look at the data I refer you to the link above.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *