LEVA-EU commissions research into potential of light electric vehicles to fight climate change

LEVA-EU has commissioned research from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to examine the potential of light electric vehicles (LEVs) in the fight against climate change.

LEVA-EU, headquartered in Belgium, said mass uptake of LEVs such as e-scooters, electric (cargo) cycles, e-mopeds, e-motorcycles and small three- and four-wheeled e-vehicles is ‘crucial’ to reducing transport emissions, as they are more efficient than larger electric vehicles due to their favourable vehicle weight to payload ratio.

However, the association said many decision-makers mistakenly believe that the replacement of the current fleet of internal combustion engine vehicles by similarly sized electric cars will be sufficient to achieve overall transport emission reductions as required by the Paris Agreement on climate change. LEVA-EU believes this is a ‘flawed’ policy since transport demand continues to grow and sustaining the current fleet of passenger cars, even if electric, will place an unbearable burden on the world’s resources.

“As with electrically powered passenger cars, LEVs allow for emissions from a combustion process, as seen in petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles, to be eliminated,” said LEVA-EU manager Annick Roetynck. “In contrast to the large and heavy passenger cars, however, the batteries and vehicles themselves are considerably smaller and lighter, so that the consumption of critical raw materials is also reduced, thus considerably lowering production-related greenhouse gas emissions.”

There is widespread agreement to reduce CO2 emissions from transport by a minimum of 50% at the latest by 2050, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Whereas the emissions case for the mass adoption of electric passenger vehicles has been evaluated in many studies, the emission reduction potential via the adoption of LEVs has ‘hardly been examined’, said LEVA-Eu.

In the framework of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November, LEVA-EU has now commissioned such research from DLR in alliance with the International Cargo Bike Festival, Zedify and micromobility consultancy Mved. The DLR project was initiated last August. LEVA-EU said it intends to use the research results to raise awareness among decision-makers and the public of the potential LEVs have to offer in the fight against climate change.

The research will use Germany as an example, where Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from transport currently represent around 20% of total national GHG emissions. The research will model GHG emission reduction potential, based on a scenario in which LEVs replace passenger vehicle trips wherever feasible. The research team will thus determine the theoretical potential of LEVs for a scenario in 2030 when the Paris Agreement emissions commitments for the sector are to be met. LEVA-EU, the International Cargo Bike Festival, Zedify and Mved believe meeting the Paris Agreement will require ‘dramatic’ increases in the numbers and use of LEVs.

“Evaluation of passenger car use in Germany shows that 60% of vehicle mileage results from trips under 50km and 75% from trips under 100km,” said Roetynck. “This means that around 46% of GHG emissions from the transport sector are caused by trips under 100km, which could partly be driven with LEVs instead of passenger cars – a considerable basic potential for emission reduction.

“Not all trips with passenger cars may be replaced with LEVs, nor will they reduce emissions per vehicle kilometre to zero. The study will therefore estimate a theoretical emission reduction potential considering vehicle performance parameters for passenger car trip substitution as well as production- and operation-related emissions.”

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