February 2021

Road transportation: what alternative motorisations are suitable for the climate?


In order to respond to the climate challenge, the mobility sector has no choice but to reinvent itself. Through new technologies, new uses and by acting on demand: the challenge is so great that all the levers will have to be activated.

In France, 95% of GHG emissions from transport are attributable to road transport. Most of the vehicle flows, and therefore emissions, are based on the use of passenger cars, commercial vehicles and trucks. Taking an interest in the low-carbon mobility transition therefore inevitably means putting a particular focus on the energy transition of road vehicles, regardless of the necessary modal shift and moderation of demand.

In this field, mobility operators and vehicle users in general have every interest in anticipating the changes that are going to occur, so that they can be participants and not have to suffer as a result. For economic players, this foresight enables them to become resilient in the transition, and thus ensures the economic sustainability of their activity. For households, it is the guarantee of access to individual mobility that is compatible with civic engagement.

However, despite government announcements and the positions taken by major industrial players, the technological path of the energy transition has not yet been clearly mapped out: no one can say today with certainty what the most suitable alternatives to the current fuels will be in the future. Won’t hydrogen technology with fuel cells be preferable to battery electrification? Shouldn't gas technologies be favoured, in particular through the use of bioNGV? Won't liquid biofuels have a decisive role to play in this transition?

In order to rank these different available energy options, one of the main metrics to compare will be the carbon footprint over its life-cycle for different types of vehicles: private cars, light commercial vehicles, buses and semi-trailer trucks. This publication summarizes the most recent results obtained by Carbone 4, in order to inform the debate and help stakeholders make the best decisions with full knowledge of the facts.

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Discover the executive summary in which Carbone 4 summarise the main points about the automotive sector.  

Download the executive summary             



Discover the executive summary in which Carbone 4 summarise the main points about the road transport sector.  

Download the executive summary