The automotive group of the World Steel Association, pressed today for the need to shift the basis of vehicle emissions regulations from tailpipe emissions to a total life cycle assessment (LCA).

LCA considers emissions from all aspects of a vehicle’s life, from material production to end-of-life-recycling, and should play an important role in current regulations in discussion around the world.

“When vehicle emissions assessment is focused solely on emissions produced during the driving phase (tailpipe), this encourages the use of greenhouse gas-intensive materials in an effort to reduce vehicle weight and fuel consumption”, said Cees ten Broek, WorldAutoSteel Director. “However, this may have the unintended consequence of increasing greenhouse gas emissions during the vehicle’s total life cycle”.

Alternative materials, such as aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre, produce emissions during their manufacture that are five to 20 times greater than those during steel manufacture.

The USA is currently examining further fuel economy and emissions requirements for 2017-2025. And while the mid-term review of EU legislation on emission standards for new cars is expected for next year, in many Asia Pacific countries vehicle efficiency standards also are being assessed. In light of these developments, the industry is calling for a shift from tailpipe emissions regulations to a life cycle assessment approach that effectively measures the carbon footprint of today’s and future cars.

“Legislation that focuses only on one part of the vehicle’s life cycle will become immediately out of date as the electric vehicle becomes more prominent on the road”, said ten Broek. “We are only shifting the problem to other vehicle life cycle phases”.

WorldAutoSteel recently released results of a global steel industry initiative, the FutureSteelVehicle (FSV), which features fully engineered steel body structure designs for electrified vehicles that reduce total life cycle emissions by nearly 70% and vehicle weight by 35% compared to a benchmark. FSV demonstrates that low life cycle emission vehicles are not only possible with steel, but more probable.

WorldAutoSteel is the automotive group of the World Steel Association, is comprised of 17 major global steel producers from around the world.