A comparison of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from combustion and electric heavy-duty vehicles in India

This study evaluates the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) contributions of different HDV vehicle technologies and fuel pathways in India. Examining three representative HDVs—a 12-tonne rigid truck, a 55-tonne tractor trailer, and an urban bus—we evaluate a mix of different powertrain technologies, including best-in-class diesel HDVs, natural gas-fueled HDVs, battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles.

We find that battery-electric HDVs offer the greatest GHG emissions reductions of current vehicle technologies, even with the relatively large share of coal in India’s electricity grid. When powered with renewable electricity, the lifetime GHG emissions from these vehicles decrease further, up to 78%–83% lower than those of diesel HDVs. The GHG savings from fuel cell electric HDVs are highly dependent on the source of hydrogen. With grey (natural gas-derived) hydrogen, emissions are only 12%–18% lower than diesel. Fueled with green hydrogen, fuel cell HDVs show GHG savings similar to those of battery electric HDVs, though they consume more electricity over their lifetime due to conversion losses.