Comparative analysis of CO2 emissions of electric ride-hailing vehicles over conventional gasoline personal vehicles

(1) West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, (2) Solutions Research, MSCI Inc

* These authors made equal contributions
Cover photo for Comparative analysis of CO<sub>2</sub> emissions of electric ride-hailing vehicles over conventional gasoline personal vehicles
Image credit: Paul Hanaoka

Ride-hailing services have become popular due to their convenience, affordability, and accessibility. Increasing cost of car ownership, traffic congestion and parking shortages are fostering this global market growth. Though four-wheeler ride-hailing vehicles are fuel efficient, researchers have determined that the emission reductions from fuel efficiency alone cannot compensate for the additional emissions caused by "deadheading," the issue of driving without passengers on ride-hailing trips. We suggest that electric vehicle-based ride-hailing services have the potential to reduce utilization CO2 emissions, which are emissions released while using (driving) the vehicle. However, skeptics challenging this hypothesis cite CO2 released during electricity generation (carbon intensity) needed for recharging batteries and the inherent issue of deadheading in ride-hailing services. We compared ride-hailing vehicles to gasoline-powered passenger cars, the largest source of carbon emissions within the transportation sector. In many cases, ride-hailing vehicles are electric and have newer models, so they emit less CO2 per kilometer. We conducted a quantitative analysis, using a mathematical model to estimate the utilization of CO2 emissions for electric vehicles per ride-hailing trip kilometer, considering carbon intensity of electricity generation, electric vehicle fuel efficiency, and deadheading. We compared our results with average estimated utilization CO2 emissions to gasoline-powered passenger cars. Additionally, we performed a sensitivity analysis, which involved adjusting the input variables within plausible ranges to assess their impact on our model results. According to our analysis, despite deadheading, improved vehicle fuel efficiency and cleaner electricity generation result in lower CO2 emissions for electric ride-hailing vehicles than gasoline personal vehicles.

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