Researchers See Aggressive Driving Takes Away Green Vehicle MPG Benefits

As NAFA Pres­i­dent Claude Mas­ters shared while par­tic­i­pat­ing on a Cal­start pan­el dur­ing NAFA I&E, he’d once heard a con­fer­ence speak­er say that his Toy­ota Prius was only get­ting miles per gal­lon in the low 40s and not the 50 mpg the automak­er has claimed. Mas­ters raised his hand and com­ment­ed that he’d seen the speak­er race by him on the high­way going over 90 miles per hour – and he saw an obvi­ous corol­lary between the speed­ing and the reduced mpg.

Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty researchers have found that dri­ving con­di­tions are a crit­i­cal aspect to mileage achieved by hybrid elec­tric vehi­cles, along with plug-in hybrid and bat­tery elec­tric vehi­cles. The study, “Influ­ence of Dri­ving Pat­terns on Life Cycle Cost and Emis­sions for Hybrid and Plug-in Elec­tric Vehi­cle Pow­er­trains” was released dur­ing a time with the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is work­ing on new fuel econ­o­my labels start­ing with 2013 vehi­cles. The stick­ers will offer infor­ma­tion on vehi­cle per­for­mance – all-elec­tric range, fuel econ­o­my, esti­mat­ed annu­al fuel cost, emis­sions, and smog rat­ing. Con­sumers will be giv­en more infor­ma­tion for pur­chase deci­sions, but the labels are lack­ing crit­i­cal com­par­i­son data about dri­ving con­di­tions, the report said.

Test­ed in New York City dri­ving con­di­tions – under var­i­ous sce­nar­ios and sim­u­lat­ed dri­ving con­di­tions – the study found that hybrid and plug-in vehi­cles can cut life cycle emis­sions by 60% and reduce costs up to 20% rel­a­tive to con­ven­tion­al vehi­cles. Aggres­sive dri­ving styles with high accel­er­a­tion do take their toll on elec­tric vehi­cles – range can be reduced by up to 45% under these types of dri­ving con­di­tions com­pared to milder test cycles. Hybrids and EVs are gen­er­al­ly cost­ing more than con­ven­tion­al vehi­cles, so dri­ver edu­ca­tion and mon­i­tor­ing needs to hap­pen to make it all worth­while.

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