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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Berkeley TSRC study quantifies VMT and GHG benefits of car2go car-sharing in North America

July 25, 2016

car2go NA is currently the largest flexible one-way carsharing service in North America. Now, a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) concludes that car2go’s carsharing model can complement existing mass transit options; reduces the overall number of vehicles on the road; and ultimately improves mobility in densely-populated urban areas.

Among the study’s conclusions were that, on balance, car2go changes VMT (vehicle miles travelled) by -6% to -16% per car2go household; GHG emissions change by -4% to -18% per car2go household. Overall, the results of this study suggest that car2go one-way carsharing is substantively impacting travel behavior, miles driven, GHG emissions, and the number of vehicles on urban roads within operating regions.

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UMTRI: US driver preference for automation about the same as last year; most prefer retaining control

May 24, 2016

Despite greater coverage of driverless technology advancements the past couple of years, most Americans still prefer to drive themselves—at least partially, according to a new report by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The new report is a follow-on to their study last year of motorists’ preferences for vehicle automation, including their overall concern about riding in self-driving cars.

Sivak and Schoettle found that 45.8% prefer to retain full control while driving, while 38.7% prefer a partially self-driving vehicle with occasional control by the driver. Just under 16% (15.5%) would rather ride in a completely self-driving vehicle.

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Edmunds.com: EV and hybrid loyalty falls to all-time low

April 21, 2016

Only 27.5% of all hybrid and electric vehicle trade-ins in the US in 2016 have been applied to the purchase of another hybrid or EV, according to a new analysis from car shopping destination Edmunds.com. The rate is a sharp drop from the 38.5% of hybrid and EV trade-ins in 2015, and the findings reinforce a trend first identified last year by Edmunds that owners of alt-fuel vehicles are returning to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in greater numbers than ever before.

Edmunds’ analysis found that a hybrid or electric trade-in is more likely to go toward the purchase of a SUV (33.8%) than another hybrid or EV. The trend is even more apparent when looking only at EV trade-ins—25.7% of EV trade-ins went toward the purchase of a SUV, compared to just 4.8% that went toward another EV.

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Audi summarizes electric driving utilization from 4-year Electric Mobility Showcase; 1.4M km for A1 e-tron and A3 Sportback e-tron

April 14, 2016

Audi gained a wealth of experience from the 1.4 million kilometers (869,919.7 mi) driven as part of the four-year Electric Mobility Showcase in Germany. (Earlier post.) Ahead of the closing conference in Leipzig today, Audi revealed some of the electric driving results for its two models involved: the A1 e-tron prototype and the production A3 Sportback e-tron.

The Electric Mobility Showcase program is a joint initiative of the German government and the automotive industry. Four ministries lent their support to 90 individual measures in four regions of Germany. Audi was one of the first vehicle manufacturers to sign up to the program; when Audi entered in 2012, it was involved in six projects for which it provided a fleet of 80 Audi A1 e-tron prototypes.

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NREL releases study on public sentiments on PEVs

April 12, 2016

NREL has released a new report presenting the findings of a study on the public’s sentiments regarding plug-in vehicles (PEVs), with a focus on vehicle purchasing behaviors, awareness, and barriers to acceptance.

Conducted in February 2015, the study—“Consumer Views on Plug-in Electric Vehicles-National Benchmark Report”—covered a 1,015-household sample designed to be representative of the US population. NREL plans to repeat the study annually to track changing consumer perceptions. High level findings from the study included:

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J.D. Power study finds ACEN technology woes affecting vehicle reliability for consumers

February 26, 2016

Problems with technology continue to affect vehicle reliability for consumers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 US Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). The number of problems with infotainment, navigation and in-vehicle communication systems—collectively known as audio, communication, entertainment and navigation or ACEN—has increased and now accounts for 20% of all customer-reported problems in the study.

ACEN is now the most problematic area on most vehicles and is the cause of the industry’s 3% year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability. Key findings of the study included:

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UK study finds fifth of car fuel-efficiency savings eroded by increased driving; long-term rebound effect

February 10, 2016

Around a fifth of the energy-saving benefits of fuel-efficient cars are eroded because people end up driving them more, according to a study into British motoring habits over the last 40 years.

Using data from 1970 to 2011, energy experts at the University of Sussex found a long-term rebound effect among British car-drivers of around 20%. Published in an open access paper in the February issue of the journal Energy Economics, this is the first estimation of this rebound effect—a term used to describe the increased consumption of cheaper energy services—for car travel in Great Britain.

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Study of eco-driving in hybrids finds need for systems that facilitate energy-efficient behaviors

January 30, 2016

A study of eco-driving behavior in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) by a team from Technische Universität Chemnitz (Germany) and the University of Southampton (UK) has found that simply providing drivers with a technology that has the potential for high energy savings—i.e., a hybrid—is not sufficient to result in high energy savings; systems must be developed in a way that facilitates energy efficient behaviors.

Put another way, they found that eco-driving motivation does not guarantee ecodriving success. Their study showed that even among drivers who were highly motivated for eco-driving, the individual differences in applied ecodriving strategies were still substantial. Building on the results, the team presented a number of suggestions for the design of systems that facilitate ecodriving. A paper on their study is published in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

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City of LA, Xerox introduce multi-modal transportation app for commuters

January 27, 2016

The City of Los Angeles is introducing the Go LA app, powered by Xerox, a solution that integrates all the available methods of getting around the second largest metro area in the United States. Unlike other efforts to improve the daily commute, the Go LA app captures the full range of transportation options and computes the shortest, cheapest, and most sustainable way to get to your destination.

The app aggregates and calculates the time, cost, carbon footprint, and health benefits from walking, biking, driving your own car, parking, taking public transit, as well as the emerging private transportation options—such as Lyft, Zipcar, FlitWays and Uber—giving users a variety of ways to reach their destination. Discovering user needs for combining public and private transportation options, Xerox researchers designed and delivered this smart city solution.

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IBM study finds consumers very interested in alternative ownership models for cars, self-enabling vehicles

January 12, 2016

Consumers expect to use cars differently—showing particular interest in self-enabling vehicles—though they don’t necessarily want to own one in the traditional sense, according to the results of IBM’s automotive consumer study, presented at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. This presents opportunities for automakers to apply analytics and cognitive capabilities to develop new vehicle options.

A New Relationship – People and Cars,” developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), reports that consumers also show a high level of interest in self-enabling vehicles, or cars that can learn, heal, drive and socialize. These capabilities include autonomous, self-driving cars, vehicles that can be fixed without human intervention and the implementation of cognitive computing to learn and assimilate to the driver’s behaviors, the vehicle itself and the surrounding environment.

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Report finds road transportation sector in Canada likely to fall far short of 2050 GHG emissions reduction target

November 12, 2015

A new Conference Board of Canada report finds that Canada is unlikely to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Even when taking into account reduced distances traveled per vehicle, improvements in fuel efficiency, and greater market penetration of alternative technology vehicles, Canada falls short of the 80-by-50 target.

Despite voluntary and regulatory initiatives that have improved the emissions efficiency of passenger and freight transportation, emissions from road transportation are increasing due to growing number of cars on the road and Canadians’ changing preference for light trucks. Canada’s road transport emissions were 40% higher in 2013 than in 1990. Between 1990 and 2013, transportation emissions accounted for nearly half of the growth of Canada’s total emissions levels, with road transport accounting for the largest share of transportation emissions.

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Fujitsu launches Singapore field trial of AI-enhanced event-congestion-mitigation system

November 09, 2015

Fujitsu Laboratories has begun a field trial that aims to reduce congestion around major events, stadiums, and shopping centers through behavioral guidance. This field trial uses a smartphone application that, based on the expected congestion when people return home from major events, proposes behavior or how to spend time best suited to the user, and then verifies the results.

These suggestions for behavior are generated by Human Centric AI Zinrai, Fujitsu Limited’s systematic approach to artificial-intelligence. This technology works to fine-tune the details of suggestions with the goal of mitigating congestion, by shifting times of peak traffic and modes of transportation.

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Univ of Utah studies find up to 27 seconds of mental distraction for drivers after using new hands-free technologies

October 23, 2015

Potentially unsafe mental distractions for drivers can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands, according to a pair of new studies for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety by University of Utah researchers.

The researchers discovered the residual effects of mental distraction while comparing new hands-free technologies in ten 2015 vehicles and three types of smartphones. The analysis found that all systems studied increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. The systems that performed best generally had fewer errors, required less time on task and were relatively easy to use.

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Japan’s NEDO selects Nissan and Kanematsu to analyze EV use in California; focus on fast charging and encouraging longer distances

October 21, 2015

The New Energy Industrial Technology and Development Organization (NEDO), Japan’s largest public R&D management organization, has selected Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and the Japan-based trading company Kanematsu Corporation to analyze electric vehicle use patterns in Northern California.

The NEDO project will seek to encourage the use of electric vehicles for longer distances and inter-city driving by installing and maintaining multiple quick chargers along specific inter-city routes. Nissan and Kanematsu will collect and analyze data on EV driving patterns in California, and create a suitable model to help promote more extensive use of electric vehicles in the state and beyond.

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INL analysis of 5 large-scale PEV and charging projects finds public charging infrastructure not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption

October 01, 2015

Idaho National Laboratory has released the voluminous findings from its analysis of five large-scale PEV and charging infrastructure projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Collectively, these projects represent the largest-ever deployment, data collection and analysis, and reporting of PEV and charging infrastructure petroleum reduction benefits. The results will be used to support and refine activities of the US Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The key finding of INL’s assessment of the results was that public charging infrastructure is not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption. Instead, the results suggest that charging infrastructure should be focused at homes, workplaces and public “hot spots” that serve multiple venues.

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Ford survey in Europe finds SUVs highly desired by Millenials; projected acceleration of SUV boom

September 08, 2015

A new survey sponsored by Ford Motor Company in Europe found that SUVs are highly desired by Millennials (ages 17-34), suggesting that Europe’s SUV boom is poised to accelerate as the generation reaches prime new-car-buying age.

Ford is showing the European-specification Ford Edge large SUV for the first time at Frankfurt Motor Show next week. Starting with the launch of the Edge early next year, Ford plans to introduce five new vehicles in the next three years that will compete in the SUV and crossover space. In addition Ford will introduce updated versions of the EcoSport small SUV and Kuga mid-sized SUV this year. As a result, Ford is targeting sales of 200,000 SUVs in Europe by 2016—a 200% increase compared with 2013.

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Argonne researchers develop new non-precious-metal fuel cell catalyst with performance comparable to platinum

August 27, 2015

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new fuel cell catalyst using earth-abundant materials with performance that is comparable to platinum in laboratory tests. The nanofibrous non-precious metal catalyst (NPMC) is synthesized by electrospinning a polymer solution containing a mixture of ferrous organometallics and metal-organic frameworks and then is thermally activated.

The resulting catalyst offers a carbon nanonetwork architecture made of microporous nanofibers decorated by uniformly distributed high-density active sites. As reported in an open access paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), in a single-cell test, the membrane electrode containing the catalyst delivered volumetric activities of 3.3 A⋅cm−3 at 0.9 V or 450 A⋅cm−3 extrapolated at 0.8 V, representing the highest reported value in the literature. The team also observed improved fuel cell durability.

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TTI/INRIX study shows US traffic congestion back at pre-recession levels; average travel delay/commuter 2x that in 1982

A new report produced by INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows that traffic congestion in the US has returned to pre-recession levels. Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours—42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter. Other top-level findings include:

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US total VMT hits historic high in first half of year; VMT per capita trending upward, but below 2005 peak

August 23, 2015

US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates show that US driving topped 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of 2015, beating the previous record of 1.5 trillion miles, set in June 2007. This is more than double the amount driven during the same period in 1981, continuing a trend of America’s driving mileage doubling nearly every generation.

However, on a per capita basis (non-institutional population), VMT, although it has been trending upward for the last year on a 12-month moving average, is still below its peak in June 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) database from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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