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Life-cycle assessment in the automotive sector

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), part of the Commission's Joint Research Centre, has published an "Overview of life-cycle assessment studies in the automotive sector".

In recent years environmental issues have assumed an increasing priority for both...
The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), part of the Commission's Joint Research Centre, has published an "Overview of life-cycle assessment studies in the automotive sector".

In recent years environmental issues have assumed an increasing priority for both government and industry. Emphasis has shifted from a site-specific focus to a product-specific focus. In particular, public scrutiny has focused on private cars and light and heavy lorries due to their perceived environmental impacts. Consequently, a number of tools have been developed to assess as scientifically as possible the real environmental impact of products.

Life-cycle assessment is one such tool, which provides an unbiased analysis of entire industrial systems associated with products. Methodologies for life-cycle assessment are currently being standardized at international level. The IPTS study was commissioned in order to get a clear overview of existing and on-going life-cycle assessment studies, primarily at European level.

Existing and on-going studies have been identified through literature searches and direct contacts. Organizations contacted include materials producers, materials users, and consultants and universities involved in the sector. The following types of life-cycle studies were sought:

- Life-cycle energy analysis;
- Life-cycle inventory;
- Life-cycle impact assessment.

The studies identified have been classified in four main categories:

- Fuel;
- Material and car parts;
- Engines and car;
- Car, or car part, end of life.
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