Low Carbon ICE Vehicles

Decarbonization Avenue : Low Carbon ICE Vehicles

There are currently over one billion cars on the world’s roads running on internal combustion engines.

Electric transportation may be the future, but it could take quite a while for a majority of the cars on our roads to become electric. Even by 2050, one can expect a very large percentage of the vehicles on the road to be running on internal combustion engines. It is thus imperative to explore decarbonization and low carbon avenues available for ICE vehicles.

Possible avenues to make ICE vehicles low carbon would be to improve the efficiency/mileage these vehicles through better ICE engines, enable these vehicles to run on natural gas or hybrids of natural gas and gasoline or diesel, use of biofuels in place of fossil fuels, and fundamental innovations in vehicle design, aerodynamics and materials to drive fuel efficiencies.

With key mandates around vehicle mileage and pollution being implemented in many regions worldwide, one can expect significant CO2 emissions reductions from efficiency improvements for ICE vehicles during the 2020-2030 period. This timeline is also likely to witness significant increases in the use of biofuels, and natural gas as a fuel, especially for heavier vehicles such as trucks.  

While technology and operational efficiency improvements are promising for this critical decarbonization avenue, challenges remain in changing peoples’ behaviours - sharing trips, buying smaller cars, better vehicle maintenance and operations - that can make significant difference to the overall CO2 emissions from this sector. 

For the 2020-2030 period, innovation in this sector will be around improvements in engine & powertrain efficiency, combustion control technology, advanced materials for lightweighting of vehicles, and hybrid vehicles.

Decarbonization potential

The global transport sector alone contributes about 8 billion tons of CO2 annually, almost all of them from the use of IC engines. Of this, about 3.6 billion tons are from passenger road vehicles, 2.4 billion tons from freight vehicles, and about 1 billion tons each from marine and aviation transport.

Engine efficiency enhancement is one avenue to reduce CO2 emissions from ICE vehicles. For instance, gasoline engines are about 25% efficient in real-life conditions, diesel engines about 30-35% efficient. In theory, gasoline engines can get to about 35% and diesel engines up to about 45%, thus providing scope for improvement. 

Reducing vehicle weight is another avenue that can have significant implications for reducing emissions from ICE vehicles. A truck with a gross weight of 10 tons could carry about 4 tons, so 6 tons is just the weight of the vehicle being carried by the fuel. A car would typically have a gross weight that's twice the payload. These data show how increasing the capacity utilization (more goods and more people) for commercial and passenger vehicles can have a significant impact on fuel consumption & CO2 emissions.

Driving behaviours present another avenue to reduce emissions - driving at a steady speed of 50 miles per hour (mph) instead of 70mph can improve fuel economy by 25%. The challenge could however be in enforcing this habit worldwide among hundreds of millions of car drivers.

Industries impacted

  • Automobiles & auto components
  • Electrical
  • Logistics
  • Marine transport
  • Oil & gas
  • Power
  • Rail transport Retail
  • Road transport

Latest News on Low Carbon ICE Vehicles

Themes & Topics

  • More efficient ICEs for

    • Scooters & motorbikes

    • Three wheelers

    • Cars, vans & SUVs

    • LCVs

    • Trucks and other HCVs

    • Buses

  • Vehicles running on:

    • Diesel engine

    • Gasoline engine

    • Natural gas engine

    • Flex fuel engines













  • Low carbon avenues

    • Effiient engine

    • Efficient transmission & drivetrain

    • Efficient vehicle design and aerodynamics

    • Smaller cars & vehicles

    • Lightweight materials

    • Use of IT & IoT to make vehicles more smart & efficient

    • Consumer awareness of best practices for driving & maintenance

  • ICE hybrids for lower emissions

    • Natural gas hybrids for gasoline & diesel vehicles

    • Electric hybrids

  • Fuel efficiency norms

  • Collaboration

  • Financing












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