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In-use energy and CO2 emissions impact of a plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle based on real-world driving

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Facilitated by fuel economy, climate legislation and government policy, sales of light-duty plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles are rapidly increasing during the last decade. But their energy and emissions impact have not been fully investigated, particularly accounting for energy and emissions during electricity generation. In this study, we conducted in-use energy consumption and emissions measurements of a plug-in and a battery electric vehicle under real-world city and highway driving conditions. We further compare them with energy consumption and emissions from counterpart conventional vehicles under the same driving conditions, to exclude benefits due to different vehicle specifications. Our results show that both the plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles can achieve about 50% energy benefits compared with their counterpart conventional vehicles, mainly through capturing regenerative energy. But when vehicles are tested in high-speed or high-acceleration driving conditions, the distance-normalized life-cycle CO2 emissions of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles are higher to their counterpart gasoline powered vehicles. The CO2 emissions comparison results can vary based on the location and time of electricity generation. Therefore, our results confirm that benefits of promoting electric vehicles should consider temporal and spatial aspects of electricity generation.

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YC initiated the research when he was at TTI, and continued after he moved to NREL. KH and JZ contributed on results analysis and visualization. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors.

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Correspondence to Y. Chen.

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Chen, Y., Hu, K., Zhao, J. et al. In-use energy and CO2 emissions impact of a plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle based on real-world driving. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 15, 1001–1008 (2018).

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