Review and meta-analysis of EVs : Embodied emissions and environmental breakeven

Kevin Joseph Dillman*, Áróra Árnadóttir, Jukka Heinonen, Michał Czepkiewicz, Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Electric vehicles (EVs) are often considered a potential solution to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions originating from personal transport vehicles, but this has also been questioned due to their high production emissions. In this study, we performed an extensive literature review of existing EV life-cycle assessments (LCAs) and a meta-analysis of the studies in the review, extracting life-cycle GHG emission data combined with a standardized methodology for estimating GHG electrical grid intensities across the European Economic Area (EEA), which were used to estimate a set of environmental breakeven points for each EEA country. A Monte Carlo simulation was performed to provide sensitivity analysis. The results of the review suggest a need for greater methodological and data transparency within EV LCA research. The meta-analysis found a subset of countries across the EEA where there is a potential that EVs could lead to greater life-cycle GHG emissions than a comparable diesel counterpart. A policy discussion highlights how EV policies in countries with contrasting GHG electric grid intensities may not reflect the current techno-environmental reality. This paper emphasizes the importance for researchers to accurately depict life-cycle vehicle emissions and the need for EEA countries to enact policies corresponding to their respective contextual conditions to avoid potentially enacting policies that could lead to greater GHG emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9390
Number of pages28
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • E-mobility
  • Electric vehicles
  • Environmental breakeven
  • EV LCA
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Meta-analysis


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