Electric vehicles (EVs) are being promoted as a viable vehicle technology to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional vehicles. Previous studies have shown that the use phase of the EVs is the main contributor to EV life cycle environmental impacts. Use phase impacts depend on multiple factors such as the type and amount of electricity used to charge the batteries, driving behavior, and life span of the battery.

Comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) studies exist on the impacts of electric vehicle. However, most studies assume no variability in user behavior. This variability could play a significant role in determining the environmental impacts of the EVs. This study aims to address some of these concerns by empirically determining the life cycle impacts of EVs based on different consumer behavior. First, EV driving and charging behaviors that have a major influence in determining battery ageing were identified from EV consumer literature and scenarios were developed to capture a variety of behaviors. These scenarios served as inputs to a battery ageing test. The experiment resulted in three unique capacity fade and energy efficiency fade distributions that were integrated into existing LCA models to determine variability in life cycle impacts.

Results of the LCA model show that the environmental impacts of EVs are dependent on consumer behavior. Nevertheless, the sensitivity analyses show the severity of the impacts depend heavily on the electricity mix that is used to charge the EV in the use phase. Combining aspects of user behavior with the properties of the grid that is being used, a strategy can be developed to ensure that EVs have the lowest life cycle impact. The method to link LCA models to consumer behavior and battery ageing tests presented in this study points to opportunities for reducing the overall life cycle impact of EVs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Electric vehicles--Environmental aspects; Product life cycle--Environmental aspects; Consumer behavior--Environmental aspects; Life cycle costing

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Sustainable Systems (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Sustainability (GIS)


Thomas A. Trabold

Advisor/Committee Member

Callie Babbitt

Advisor/Committee Member

Gabrielle Gaustad


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes