The future of road transportation systems faces fundamental changes concerning technological progress and business models. Automated and electric vehicles are coming into the market and evolving towards a service-based mobility system with promises to tackle energy and environmental issues in the mobility sector. Although recent studies have begun to explore the potential impact of shared and privately owned automated and electric vehicles (AEVs) mostly from an operational perspective, little is known about the life cycle impact of such future transport systems. To fill this gap, this paper aims to compare the life cycle environmental impacts of shared vs privately owned AEVs in a regional context. A life cycle assessment (LCA) approach is developed to appraise impact categories with a direct effect on human health, ecosystems, and resources availability. Given that automated vehicles are not yet being used massively, the LCA is applied to synthetic travel demand data to assess the characteristics of privately-owned AEVs and the results of an optimization model that determines the vehicle fleet and driving patterns of shared AEVs serving a regional case-study in the central region of Portugal. Two different vehicle seating capacities - one passenger (non-ridesharing) and four passengers (ridesharing) – are considered to evaluate shared mobility systems. Results show that shared mobility systems yield a potential reduction of up to 42% (with 4 passengers per vehicle) of the system's environmental impacts compared to privately owned automated vehicles. Human toxicity, mineral resource scarcity, and marine and freshwater ecotoxicity are the impact categories with a higher potential of reduction.
- Automated and electric vehicles (AEVs)
- Flow-based optimization
- life cycle assessment (LCA)
- Private vehicle ownership
- Shared mobility