From farthest to closest: Nissan Leaf, Smart ED, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV highway-capable electric cars. (photo credit: Plug'n Drive, Creative Commons 2.0)

From farthest to closest: Nissan Leaf, Smart ED, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV highway-capable electric cars. (photo credit: Plug’n Drive, Creative Commons 2.0)

The paper, “The implications of modeling range and infrastructure barriers to battery electric vehicle adoption,” authored by

  • Garrett Barter (no longer at Sandia, but formerly in our Systems Research & Analysis II Dept.),
  • Mike Tamor (Ford Motor Company),
  • Dawn Manley (Senior Manager in Sandia’s Chemical Sciences Group), and
  • Todd West (Manager of Sandia’s Systems Research & Analysis II Dept.),

which was presented at the 94th Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, has been awarded the McNutt Award for excellence in automotive policy analysis by the Transportation Research Board and will be published in the Transportation Research Record. The Barry McNutt Award is given jointly by the Transportation Energy and the Alternative Transportation Fuels & Technologies committees each year for the research paper that best meets the standard and spirit fostered by Barry McNutt for excellence in transportation and energy policy analysis. McNutt was a Senior Policy Analyst in the US Department of Energy’s Office of Policy who made major contributions to national energy and environmental policies for transportation.

Compared to traditional vehicles, light-duty battery electric vehicles (BEVs) currently have price-premiums and non-cost limitations such as reduced range, sparse public recharging infrastructure, and long recharge times. These additional limitations can be captured in different ways in a consumer choice model. The authors implemented three approaches to non-cost barrier modeling and compare the results. A penalty approach quantifies limitations as additional costs to the consumer, and two different threshold approaches determine BEV suitability by the frequency that daily driving distance exceeds the vehicle range. GPS-based trip data were used to form ensemble distributions of low-, medium-, and high-intensity driving distances to support the analysis.

Fleet of Chevrolet Volts at a solar-powered charging station. (photo credit: Sass Peress, Renewz Sustainable Solutions Inc., Creative Commons 3.0)

Fleet of Chevrolet Volts at a solar-powered charging station. (photo credit: Sass Peress, Renewz Sustainable Solutions Inc., Creative Commons 3.0)

All approaches show limited (5%) adoption of BEVs by 2050 and the BEV mileage fraction trails the stock fraction due to the use of substitute vehicles for high-mileage trips and adoption biased toward lower-driving-intensity segments. In fact, a majority of the electrified miles driven stem from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and not BEVs. Of the BEVs, the powertrains offering 150–250 mile ranges are responsible for more than 50% of sales. Results also hint that longer-range BEVs act as primary household vehicles, but lower-range BEVs serve as secondary household vehicles. A parametric exploration shows that mechanisms to mitigate the hardship of the non-cost barriers can significantly increase adoption rates, but that reducing battery price alone does not. However, these mechanisms can be different for different modeling approaches.

The work was supported by the US-China Clean Energy Research Center Clean Vehicle Consortium.

Read the article at the Combustion Research Facility website.