Publication Detail

Program for Vehicle Regulatory Reform: Assessing Life Cycle-Based Greenhouse Gas Standards


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Suggested Citation:
Kendall, Alissa and Hanjiro Ambrose (2018) Program for Vehicle Regulatory Reform: Assessing Life Cycle-Based Greenhouse Gas Standards. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-18-42


In the United States, the transportation sector is responsible for 36% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with light-duty vehicles (LDVs) comprising the largest contribution. Globally, transportation is responsible for approximately 24% of energy-related GHG emissions, of which road transport constitutes over 70%. In addition to other measures, rapid and extensive deployment of renewable and energy-efficient technologies is seen as a crucial intervention necessary to reduce transportation sector emissions in coming decades. This report documents the cumulative results of the project and presents both published findings and ongoing research. To understand the potential for developing and implementing life cycle-based policies for LDVs we must first develop the appropriate modeling tools, and we must understand how LCA or life cycle thinking has been implemented in policy contexts in the past. Thus, the rest of this report is divided into sections that summarize the work conducted on (i) developing LCA sub-models that will be integrated in the coupled system dynamics and LCA model, (ii) a review of the global market for PEVs with a focus on U.S. and China and implications for materials and manufacturing, (iii) a review of LCA and life cycle thinking in policy in the United States and around the world, and implications for life cycle-based vehicle policy, and (iv) the development of a new life cycle inventory to demonstrate the feasibility of a summary of findings from a Transportation Research Board (TRB) workshop on this topic conducted in January 2017. 

Key words: light vehicles, greenhouse gases, policy, life cycle analysis