Sustainable Mobility – Possibility of Zero Emission through Electric Mobility?

Seminar Paper, 2010

21 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Sustainable Mobility

3. Basics of Mobility in Germany
3.1 Transport and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
3.2 Consumer’s characteristics and behaviour

4. Zero emission technology
4.1 Well-to-wheel analysis
4.2 Battery Electric Vehicle Analysis
4.2.1 Ecologically
4.2.2 Operating characteristics
4.2.3 Economically

5. Conclusion

6. Appendix

7. References

1 Introduction

Climate change and the negative impact that various human activities can have on our ecosystem are among the inescapable challenges world leaders are facing. While the issue of global warming remains highly debated, there is increasing evidence to support the environmental impact of carbon emissions. It is estimated that the transport sector is responsible for roughly 18%[1] of carbon emissions in Germany.

In future, greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced in the transport sector and due to the globally growing demand for energy in emerging markets and the risk of shortages prices of fossil fuel are bound to rise considerably. Accordingly mobility requires a sustainable development path towards zero-carbon emissions.

In consequence, the importance of alternative drive technologies is growing. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) are seen as one possible solution since they release no carbon emissions while running on electric power and are obviously low-noise. However, some question whether BEVs are truly “clean vehicles” because in some cases, the electricity used to power the vehicles is produced by high polluting coal power plants and a lot of energy is required to produce the batteries. In addition past development of battery-electric vehicles showed that the technology was not yet sufficiently mature due to low ranges and high prices to meet the requests of potential users. Thus, several requirements need to be met to achieve a market acceptance which is sufficiently big to be considered a critical mass providing the way to sustainable mobility.

According to the open questions above which are associated with an alternative drive technology, this paper first gives an understanding of sustainable mobility and shows respectively goals (Chapter 2). Chapter 3 provides an overview of greenhouse gas emissions due to transport sector in Germany and consumer’s mobility characteristics and behaviour in order to analyse in Chapter 4 whether zero emission would be possible by BEVs. For this analysis three areas are focused: economically, ecologically and operating characteristics.

2 Sustainable Mobility

Mobility is an essential need. It is one of the human activities that has vigorously increased ever since the dawn of modern civilization. It is generally acknowledged to be important prerequisite to achieving improved standards of living. Enhanced personal mobility increases access to essential services and it increases the choices open to individuals about where they live and the lifestyles they wish to lead. It increases the range of careers that individuals can choose and the working environment in which they can pursue this. Enhanced goods mobility provides consumers with a greatly widened range of products and services. It does this by enabling people to market the products they grow or manufacture over a much wider geographic area. Another important mobility asset is in respect to access of improved and increased social relationships over greater distances. The expansion in the number of vehicles over the last has provided their user with unprecedented flexibility in terms of where they can go and when and how they can go there.[2]

But people are increasingly aware that their enhanced mobility has come at a price. A price of increased pollution, emission of greenhouse gases, congestion, risk of death and serious injury, noise and disruption of communities and ecosystems.

Accordingly mobility requires a sustainable development path. Following the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) “sustainable mobility” is defined as “the ability to meet the needs of society to move freely, gain access, communicate, trade and establish relationships without sacrificing other essential human or ecological values today and in the future”.[3]

According to this the WBCSD proposes seven mobility goals in one of the most comprehensive mobility studies in 2004 that would serve to achieve more sustainable development path:[4]

- Reduce conventional emissions from transport so that they do not constitute a significant public health concern anywhere in the world
- Limit transport related greenhouse gas emissions to sustainable levels
- Reduce significantly the number of transport-related deaths and injuries worldwide;
- Reduce transport-related noise;
- Mitigate traffic congestion;
- Narrow “mobility divides” that exist within all countries and between the richest and poorest countries;
- Improve mobility opportunities for the general population in developed and developing societies.

Clearly, some of these goals are contradictory and thus mirror the inherent impasse of simultaneously achieving of more sustainable development paths while continuing to increase mobility with current trends. The challenges faced in making mobility more sustainable are illustrated in Fig. 1.:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: The challenges of making mobility sustainable[5]

Here impacts of mobility - its benefits as well as its costs - and some of the relationships that characterize it are shown. It reveals the points of leverage that, if exploited, can modify some of these relationships in ways that enhance mobility’s benefits and reduce its costs.[6] One approach, which will be discussed further within this paper, is the shift towards zero-carbon emissions through electric mobility. This would comply with up to three goals of the WBCSD in respect of reduction of conventional, greenhouse gas emissions from transport, and transport-related noise.

3 Basics of Mobility in Germany

3.1 Transport and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 2007 the transport sector was responsible for around 18 % (151.9 Mt) of total German carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (841.2 Mt), and 95 % of this came from road traffic (144.1 Mt), which includes passenger car traffic and truck transports. Passenger car traffic itself emitted 13 percent of all CO2 emissions, calculates the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). For Europe, there is a similar picture. However, on a global perspective, road traffic has a portion of 9.7 %[7] of the total CO2 emissions only, which will lead to a dramatically impact when people of emerging markets i.e. China and India start to adapt the transport behaviour to European citizens.[8] [quod vide Appendix 1]

After the opening of the border Germany recorded an increase in CO2 emissions over the entire decade. CO2 emissions by road traffic increased by approximately 15 % from 1990 to 1999, simultaneously driving performance in passenger traffic increased by about half to 866.7 billion passenger-kilometres mainly driven by an increase in number of cars from 30.7m to 41.7m.[9] Road-transport driving performance even doubled from 169.9 to 341.7 billion ton-kilometres in particular due to economy growth and more attractiveness of road transports than rail freight due to just-in-time requirements to users.[10] This trend shows a continuous increase in transport activities until 2025.[11]

The separation between fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on the one hand, and driving performance in passenger- and goods traffic on the other hand, announced in the nineties, commenced in 1999. Since that year CO2 emissions by road traffic began to drop for the first time despite a growing increase in traffic performance.[12] This trend has since been continuing due to technical improvements as a result of the gradual tightening of emissions standards for new vehicles, the retrofitting of old cars with catalytic converters and improved fuel quality has reduced its specific emissions per transport costs (passenger-kilometres) compared with 1991 in all areas in respect of CO2 and the harmful substances SOx and NOx.[13]

However, summing up between 1990 and 2007 road traffic emissions had dropped by about 4 % only, compared to the total German CO2 emissions drop by 16.9 %. Although the technology development that modern vehicles are at least two litres per 100 kilometres[14] more economical than even at the beginning of the nineties respect of fossil fuel reduction, cars are still running on fossil fuel and as such producing CO2 emissions.


[1] Umweltbundesamt (2008):

[2] cf. WBCSD (2004), Mobility 2030: Meeting the challenges to sustainability, p. 13

[3] ibidem, p. 12

[4] cf. ibidem, p. 58ff

[5] WBCSD (2004), Mobility 2030: Meeting the challenges to sustainability, p. 14

[6] cf. ibidem, p. 14ff

[7] UN IPPC Report 2007, p. 336

[8] cf. WBCSD (2009): Mobility 2030: Meeting the challenges to sustainability. p. 10

[9] cf. Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (2007):

[10] cf. OECD, 2002, Strategies to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road, p.61ff

[11] cf. OECD, 2010: Globalization, Transport and the Environment, p. 13

[12] cf. VDA (2009): Acting for Climate Protection, p. 7

[13] cf. UBA (2009):

[14] cf. VDA (2009): Acting for Climate Protection, p. 8

Excerpt out of 21 pages


Sustainable Mobility – Possibility of Zero Emission through Electric Mobility?
Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg  (Department of Business Administration and Education)
International Sustainability Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
667 KB
nachhaltige Mobilität, Elektroauto, Wasserstoffantrieb, Brennstoffzellenantrieb, CO2-Emissionen, Emissionsfreies Fahren, sustainable mobility, elctric mobility, hydrogen power train, CO2 emissions, zero emission driving
Quote paper
Diplom-Betriebswirt (BA) Cornelius M. P. Kiermasch (Author), 2010, Sustainable Mobility – Possibility of Zero Emission through Electric Mobility?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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