Ford, U-M study says EV pickup trucks show positive climate impact

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A study conducted by the University of Michigan (U-M) and Ford Motor Company has evaluated the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline-powered pickup trucks as part of the decarbonization of the transportation industry in the US.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • What did Ford and U-M find in a study?

    Ford and M-U found that using EV pickup trucks results in a reduction of 74 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the truck's lifespan.
  • Do EV pickup trucks have better greenhouse gas emissions in production compared to their ICE counterparts?

    The study suggests that EV pickup trucks have greater greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing, but this impact is offset by savings in their operation.
  • The study is titled “The role of pickup truck electrification in the decarbonization of light-duty vehicles” and was published online on March 1, in the journal Environmental Research Letters. It was supported by Ford Motor Company through a Ford-University of Michigan Alliance Project Award.

    “This is an important study to inform and encourage climate action. Our research clearly shows substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be achieved from transitioning to electrified powertrains across all vehicle classes,” said U-M Professor and U-M Center for Sustainable Systems Director Greg Keoleian.

    Ford Homologation and Compliance Global Director Cynthia Williams added, “This study can help us to understand the potential impact of electrification from an emissions-reduction perspective, particularly as we introduce new electric vehicles, and how we can continue to accelerate our progress towards carbon neutrality. We’re proud to partner with U-M in this critical work.”

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    The above-mentioned study claims that the electrification of pickup trucks promises better climate impact, making EV pickup trucks a key strategy in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of major automotive manufacturers.

    Researchers conducted a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment of pickup trucks and compared the implications of pickup truck electrification to those of sedan and SUV electrification.

    They’ve found that switching an internal combustion engine (ICE) pickup truck to a battery-electric pickup truck results in a reduction of 74 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over the lifetime of the vehicle on average.

    The said study also revealed that battery electric vehicles, such as pickup trucks, have larger greenhouse gas emissions in their manufacturing than internal-combustion-engine vehicles due to the activities involved in battery production. However, this impact is offset by savings in their operation, claimed the study.

    “This study expands upon previous studies that have focused on comparing battery-electric vehicle sedans to their internal-combustion-engine or hybrid counterparts. We report emissions for vehicle production, use, and end-of-life stages on a per-mile basis and over the total vehicle lifetime. In addition, we analyzed the regional variation in emissions considering differences in electricity grid mixes and ambient temperatures, and we also explored the effects of the rate of grid decarbonization on emission reduction,” added Keoleian.

    Ford F-150 Lightning

    Ford seems to be slowly stepping away from the sedan segment — focusing mainly on making crossovers and pickup trucks. Its electrified fleet includes all-electric models like the F-150 Lighting and the Mustang Mach-E. Ford also offers hybrid models including the new Maverick pickup truck, the 2022 Escape Hybrid, and the hybrid variant of the F-150.

    Ford also has a stake in the budding EV maker Rivian, with the Blue Oval brand reportedly owning 12 percent of the growing EV company.

    Photos from Ford

    Also read: 

    Ford unveils F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup truck

    Ford’s EV sales spike by 167.2% in Jan.

    Ford invests US$22 billion for EV tech, plant, and startup company

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