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Behavior

[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.]

EIA Annual Energy Outlook explores implications of behavior and demographics on light-duty vehicle energy demand

April 18, 2014

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Light-duty VMT is beginning to decouple from traditional drivers. Source: EIA. economic Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) is in the process of staging the release of the full Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014), its annual report on projected energy use and analysis of select energy topics. The roll-out began on 7 April and will conclude on 30 April. Included in AEO2014 is a set of eight “Issues in Focus” articles, exploring topics of special significance, including changes in assumptions and recent developments in technologies for energy production and consumption.

The most recent of these In Focus articles explores the impact of demographics and behavior on light-duty vehicle (LDV) energy demand. LDVs accounted for 61% of all transportation energy consumption in the United States in 2012—8.4 million barrels of of oil equivalent per day—and represented nearly 10% of world petroleum liquids consumption. LDV energy use is driven by both LDV fuel economy and travel behavior, as measured by vehicle miles traveled (VMT). LDV VMT per licensed driver peaked in 2007 at 12,900 miles per year and has since decreased to 12,500 miles in 2012.

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IPCC: GHG emissions accelerating despite mitigation efforts; major institutional and technological change required to keep the heat down

April 13, 2014

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Decomposition of the decadal change in total global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion by four driving factors; population, income (GDP) per capita, energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy. WG III Summary for Policymakers. Click to enlarge.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a policymaker’s summary of Working Group III’s (WG III) latest report showing that despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual anthropogenic GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 giga tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO2eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000. Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010 and reached 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq/yr in 2010. The global economic crisis 2007/2008 only temporarily reduced emissions.

The increase in anthropogenic emissions comes directly from energy supply (47%); industry (30%); transport (11%); and buildings (3%) sectors, the WG reported with medium confidence. Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

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European Court of Auditors finds 2/3 of EU-funded transportation projects underutilized

April 11, 2014

A report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA)—the official institution that audits EU finances—found that two-thirds of urban transport projects co-financed by EU structural funds are underutilized. Weaknesses in project design and inadequate mobility policy were two of the main contributory factors identified.

The EU auditors analysed the performance of 26 public urban transport projects in 11 cities in five Member States. For each project, the audit team met the relevant stakeholders involved in implementing the audited projects. The auditors also physically visited the co-financed facilities, and the operating and maintenance centres. They found that overestimation of users and the lack of coordination between modes of transport, parking policy and the absence of urban mobility plans contributed to underutilization.

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ORNL study quantifies fuel economy costs of common driver practices and vehicle alterations

April 10, 2014

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have quantified the fuel economy effects of some common driver practices and vehicle accessories or alterations—including underinflated tires, open windows, and rooftop and hitch-mounted cargo. They presented their results in a paper at SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

They first subjected a compact passenger sedan and a sport utility vehicle to SAE J2263 coastdown procedures. From these coastdowns, the ORNL team developed vehicle dynamometer coefficients which enabled the execution of vehicle dynamometer experiments to determine the effect of the practices on vehicle fuel economy and emissions over standard drive cycles and at steady highway speeds. In addition, two minivans were subjected to coastdowns to examine the similarity in derived coefficients for two duplicate vehicles of the same model.

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APTA reports record public transportation usage in US in 2013; growth outpacing population and VMT growth

March 10, 2014

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Growth in public transit ridership since 1995 has outpaced population and VMT growth. Data: APTA. Click to enlarge.

In 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation—the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years—according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3%, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1%.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2%, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3%, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7%.

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Study finds 20-25% of EV range lost as psychological safety buffer; driver assistance systems could shrink that buffer

February 23, 2014

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Adaptive control of range resources. Drivers compare the current range situation with their range level reference values, which are driven by certain trait and coping skill variables. As a result, coping strategies are adapted (e.g., drive more economically, do not use EV). This leads to a certain efficiency of range utilization. Source: Franke (2014) Click to enlarge.

Between 20 to 25% of the potential range of an electric vehicle is lost as a psychological safety buffer, according to a study by a doctoral candidate at Technische Universität Chemnitz in Germany. The results of the study, which also suggested that assistance systems could reduce the size of that buffer, were based on more than 400,000 km (249,000 miles) of user experience gathered in the research project “MINI E Berlin powered by Vattenfall”. (Earlier post.)

The MINI E project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The Professorship of Cognitive and Engineering Psychology of TU Chemnitz was involved in the project from the start, alongside with BMW and Vattenfall and other university partners. During the field study a total of 79 users drove the MINI E for six months. The psychologists of TU Chemnitz conducted qualitative interviews at several points in time. In addition, questionnaires, diary methods and data loggers were used.

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US PIRG report finds reduced driving and rates of car commuting in most populous US urbanized areas

December 08, 2013

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VMT per capita has declined across the US (2006 to 2011). States with shading are missing reliable data for all or part of an urbanized area, and ‘X’s denote the location of excluded urbanized areas. Source: US PIRG. Click to enlarge.

A new report by the US PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in the US’ most populous urbanized areas, as well as greater use of public transit and biking in most cities. The average American drives 7.6% fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004.

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data and is, according to US PIRG, the first national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities and lists results for each. Among the report’s national findings:

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UMTRI survey explores receptivity of drivers to on-board carbon capture technology

September 17, 2013

Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) recently conducted an online survey of driver option to determine how receptive drivers would be to adopting—and how much they might pay for—in-vehicle technology that reduce carbon emissions.

The driver survey is the team’s second study on this topic; the first, published in 2012, provided a general review of the area, with a primary focus on post-combustion technologies for light vehicles: absorption; membrane separation; and adsorption. The first study concluded that factors that might affect driver acceptance of in-vehicle carbon capture included the added initial cost of the technology; the probable on-board storage required; possible impact on fuel economy; and changes in the routine tasks involved in vehicle upkeep. The researchers—John M. Sullivan, Michael Sivak, and Brandon Schoettle—developed the second study, the driver survey, directly to probe drivers on these issues.

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Ford aggregate driver data show its PHEV owners operate in electric mode nearly 60% of the time

July 30, 2013

Ford plug-in hybrid owners are operating in electric mode nearly 60% of the time, according to new aggregate data collected from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app.

MyFord Mobile is available on Ford’s plug-in (PHEV) and battery-electric (BEV) vehicles, Fusion Energi, C-MAX Energi and Focus Electric, and is available for download both through the App Store and Google Play. Early aggregate data collected through vehicles tied to MyFord Mobile show nearly 60% of total PHEV miles driven every day are in electric mode, and that there is an improvement in this figure over the first 30 days of vehicle ownership.

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