Estimated Bounds and Important Factors for Fuel Use and Consumer Costs of Connected and Automated Vehicles

Estimated Bounds and Important Factors for Fuel Use and Consumer Costs of Connected and Automated Vehicles

This report examines several scenarios of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) adoption rates and studies their potential impacts on fuel efficiency and consumer costs. The results found massive uncertainties in potential long-term energy impacts from fully automated and highly connected vehicles in the high adoption rate scenario and similar uncertainties in the other scenarios. The authors outline the gaps in existing research and suggest routes for further research in order of importance.

"This report estimates ranges of potential effects of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), vehicle fuel efficiency, and costs to consumers. Analysis combining the VMT and efficiency effects under assumed high CAV market penetration produces national-level impact ranges for fuel use and, by extension, greenhouse gas emissions, since fuel switching (i.e., from gasoline to alternative fuels) is not considered. The analysis of CAV costs to consumers draws upon the potential changes to VMT and vehicle efficiency, plus available data and assumptions on CAV technology cost projections. Figure ES1 illustrates the overall structure of the analysis to determine ranges of potential CAV effects on VMT and vehicle efficiency, and combine these to evaluate impact ranges for national light-duty vehicle (LDV) fuel use and for CAV technology costs to consumers."

Key findings

The CAV scenarios considered in this study include partial: partial automation with some connectivity, full-no rideshare: full automation with high connectivity without rideshare, and full-with rideshare: full automation with high connectivity with ridesharing.

"The wide range between the lower and upper bounds on future vehicle energy use reflects the large uncertainties in ways that CAVs can potentially influence vehicle efficiency and use through changes in vehicle design, driving, and travel behavior."

"Significant uncertainty exists regarding future CAV technology adoption rates. Use of alternative powertrain technologies such as vehicle electrification will be expected to reduce both the upper and lower bounds on fuel consumption for the examined scenarios. However, the relative impact of different CAV features in advanced powertrains is expected to be different than the corresponding impact in conventional vehicles, so future work will more rigorously explore the combined impacts of advanced powertrain and CAV technologies."

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