Effective planning for all-electric passenger vehicle technologies

Published: March 11th, 2016

Category: Blog, Featured, Member spotlight, News

WiSE Member Spotlight: Ria Kontou, PhD student in Civil and Coastal Engineering

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/)

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/)

Decoupling personal mobility from gasoline and encouraging the operation of alternative fuel vehicles can overall contribute to reaching national level greenhouse gas abatement goals and help towards reaching U.S. energy security. Wider plug-in electric vehicle (PEVs) adoption has the potential to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector through substituting fossil-based fuels with clean-grid electricity. PEVs are categorized in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that have both a fuel tank and an electric battery, and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which carry only batteries. Given their configuration, PEVs have reduced or zero tailpipe emissions compared to their internal combustion engine conventional counterparts. Up-to-date research in this field has shown that both technologies are more cost efficient than conventional passenger cars. Electric vehicle technology decreases the cost of vehicle operation for drivers but may require certain government investments for achieving greater adoption levels; such investments include charging facility deployment as well as PEV purchase rebates.

My research focuses on effective planning for the transition from conventional to all-electric passenger vehicle technologies.

We use mathematical programming in order to assist policymakers with making informed decisions about planning the PEVs diffusion and effective operation. It is in the government’s greatest interest to minimize the social cost of replacing gas-powered household vehicles with battery electric ones. This social cost captures household drivers’ cost heterogeneity due to their daily driving patterns, government investments for charging infrastructure deployment, as well as monetized environmental externalities. Our optimization frameworks determine the timeframe needed for 80% of household conventional vehicles to be replaced with electric ones. Other decision variables are the all-electric driving distance that electric vehicles should be able to cover daily during our planning period and the increasing annual density of public charging equipment placed on the transportation network during the same period. Data that represent the US households, automobile, and the energy market are used in order to conduct numerical experiments. Our results showcase that the planning horizon for the conversion of 80% of the conventional to electric vehicles varies from 6 to 12 years, based on the parameters and the scenarios investigated. The optimal decision variables are sensitive to factors like the battery production cost economies of scale, gasoline costs, discount rate, and conventional vehicles’ fuel economy. Faster electric vehicle diffusion is achieved when the gasoline cost increases, electricity cost for recharging decreases, and electric vehicle battery packs are cheaper.

My latest research endeavor is the development of a national policy roadmap for incentivizing BEV adoption. The government provides monetary incentives in order to induce electric vehicle demand, by increasing the utility value of this alternative fuel vehicle technology.

We are looking into proposing a battery electric vehicle (BEV) monetary incentive scheme that enables the government to reach certain BEV adoption goals with minimum investment.

Apart from optimizing the electrification of the household fleet, we also account for optimizing the operation of transitory vehicle technologies, such as PHEVs. Our research aims at determining the optimal electric driving range of PHEVs so as to minimize the daily cost borne by the society while operating this vehicle technology. Our optimization framework is applied to datasets representing the US market. Our findings indicate that the optimal range is 16 miles with an average social cost of $3.19 per day when exclusively charging at home, compared to $3.27 per day of driving a conventional vehicle. The optimal range is found to be sensitive to the cost of battery packs and the price of gasoline. When workplace charging is available, the optimal electric driving range surprisingly increases from 16 to 22 miles, as larger batteries would allow drivers to better take advantage of the charging opportunities to achieve longer electrified travel distances, yielding social cost savings. If workplace charging is available, the optimal density is to deploy a workplace charger for every 3.66 vehicles. Moreover, the diversification of the battery size, i.e., introducing a pair and triple of electric driving ranges to the market, could further decrease the average societal cost per PHEV by 7.45% and 11.5% respectively.

More about Ria


Ria Kontou at Transportation Research Board 2015 Meeting

Eleftheria (Ria) Kontou is pursuing her PhD degree in UF’s Civil and Coastal Engineering, focusing on transportation, under Dr. Yafeng Yin. She holds a M.Sc. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech and got her bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. Currently, she is collaborating with the Center for Transportation Analysis of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in modeling the market acceptance of alternative vehicle fuel technologies. In the near past, she conducted research for the Office of Safety of the Federal Highway Administration Turner-Fairbank Research Center, uncovering driving distraction patterns by analyzing naturalistic driving, eye-tracking data. She is the Vice President of the Women Transportation Seminar (WTS) Florida Gator Student Chapter, an organization that strives for the representation of women in leadership roles in transportation engineering firms and academic positions.


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