Interplay between ethanol and electric vehicles as low carbon mobility options for passengers in the municipality of São Paulo

Evaldo Costa, Julia Seixas, Gustavo Costa, Thomas Turrentine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The Brazilian cities as well as many of the large urban centers in the world continue to expand, increasing the demand for mobility and transport, while, at the same time, the same cities are investing in greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation to avoid climate change. Brazil's urbanization rate increased from 26% in 1940 to almost 70% in 1980. During this period, the Brazilian population tripled and the urban population multiplied by seven. In 2010, the transport sector in São Paulo accounted for 71% of the total emissions released by the energy sector. Ethanol has been considered a fuel with less greenhouse gas emissions, when compared with fossil fuels. However, ethanol production would have to double to meet the expected demand. Electric vehicles (EVs) market is expanding around the world, and is also an option to reduce the transport emissions, if powered by clean electricity. To assess whether the adoption of EVs might bring more benefits than the current ethanol, we develop prospective scenarios supported by the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) simulation tool, taking a bottom-up tank-to-wheel approach to consider the CO2 emissions of car in São Paulo. The scenario considering a substitution of 25% of gasoline-powered cars by EV in 2030 showed a reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions, around 15% and 26% respectively in that year in comparison with 2015. We discuss the interplay between ethanol and EV, also considering emission coefficients from life cycle analysis conducted in Brazil, and concluded EV will have higher positive impact on climate change mitigation than ethanol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-525
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2017


  • CO emissions
  • electric vehicles
  • ethanol
  • hybrid plug-in
  • São Paulo


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