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Automated vehicles and electrification of transport

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Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets can only be met by significantly decarbonising road transport. The only long term way to do this is via the electrification of powertrains combined with the production of low carbon electricity or hydrogen. Current assumptions and models, such as the IEA BLUE Map, demonstrate that this is technically possible, but assume growth in demand for transport services will only double by 2035 and triple by 2050, largely driven by growth in developing economies. However, another transport revolution, automated vehicles, could drive growth in transport services significantly further, which without electrification will have a large negative impact on efforts to curb transport related emissions. In contrast, it is shown in this paper that automated vehicles could significantly improve the economics of electric vehicles, and therefore make the electrification of powertrains more likely, which could help reduce emissions. Despite this uncertainty, little work has been done on understanding how these factors will affect each other, particularly the timing and uptake of automated vehicles and their effect on future transport related GHG emissions and economics, yet the impact on transport policy, infrastructure and society will be profound and should be of interest to policy makers, the automotive and energy industries, and society as a whole.

Graphical abstract: Automated vehicles and electrification of transport

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Article information

16 Jul 2014
11 Nov 2014
First published
11 Nov 2014

Energy Environ. Sci., 2015,8, 26-30
Article type

Automated vehicles and electrification of transport

G. J. Offer, Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, 8, 26
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE02229G

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