Optimal Fleet Conversion Policy from a Life Cycle Perspective
Vehicles typically deteriorate with accumulating mileage and emit more tailpipe air pollutants per mile. Although incentive programs for scrapping old, high-emitting vehicles have been implemented to reduce urban air pollutants and greenhouse gases, these policies may create additional sales of new vehicles as well. From a life cycle perspective, the emissions from both the additional vehicle production and scrapping need to be addressed when evaluating the benefits of scrapping older vehicles. This study explores an optimal fleet conversion policy based on mid-sized internal combustion engine vehicles in the US, defined as one that minimizes total life cycle emissions from the entire fleet of new and used vehicles. To describe vehicles' lifetime emission profiles as functions of accumulated mileage, a series of life cycle inventories characterizing environmental performance for vehicle production, use, and retirement was developed for each model year between 1981 and 2020. A simulation program is developed to investigate ideal and practical fleet conversion policies separately for three regulated pollutants (CO, NMHC, and NOx) and for CO2. According to the simulation results, accelerated scrapping policies are generally recommended to reduce regulated emissions, but they may increase greenhouse gases. Multi-objective analysis based on economic valuation methods was used to investigate trade-offs among emissions of different pollutants for optimal fleet conversion policies.