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Commercial Vehicle Technologies

Photo of medium-duty truck with the words plug-in all electric vehicle on its side.

NREL evaluates the real-world performance of advanced medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles such as this all-electric truck compared to conventional vehicles.
Photo courtesy of Smith Electric Vehicles

Photo of heavy-duty truck in a laboratory setting with tubes and chains connecting the vehicle to scientific equipment.

As part of its vehicle performance evaluations, NREL uses the heavy-duty chassis dynamometer at the ReFUEL Laboratory to simulate on-road driving in a controlled laboratory setting.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Photo of children boarding school bus in residential neighborhood.

The Fleet DNA clearinghouse of vehicle operating data spans a variety of vocations—school and transit buses, delivery vans and trucks, service vans, bucket and refuse trucks, and tractors.
Photo courtesy of School Bus Fleet Magazine

Photo of garbage truck with the words powered by natural gas on its side.

NREL evaluates the performance of select fleet vehicles such as this compressed natural gas garbage truck operated by participants in the Clean Cities' National Clean Fleets Partnership.
Photo courtesy of Western Washington Clean Cities

Photo of truck cabs connected to small truck stop electrification towers.

NREL examines the use of truck stop electrification sites, where truckers plug into the electric grid instead of idling their engines during rest periods.
Photo courtesy of Shorepower Technologies

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NREL conducts real-world evaluations of commercial vehicle technologies, comparing the performance of advanced medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles to conventional vehicles.

Evaluation results help vehicle manufacturers fine-tune their designs and help fleet managers select fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles that meet their bottom line and operational goals.

Performed in partnership with commercial and government fleets across the nation, these customized vehicle evaluations focus on the following technologies:

NREL maintains several related online tools. The Fleet DNA clearinghouse of commercial fleet vehicle operating data provides data summaries and visualizations similar to real-world genetics for medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles operating in a variety of vocations. The Drive Cycle Analysis Tool (DriveCAT) features drive cycle data for modeling, simulating, and evaluating vehicle systems and components.

In addition, NREL is assessing the fuel savings potential of semi-automated truck platooning, which reduces aerodynamic drag by grouping vehicles together and safely decreasing the distance between them via electronic coupling.

NREL is also examining the use of truck stop electrification sites along the nation's busiest transportation corridors. Such sites allow truckers to maintain air conditioning, heat, and electricity by plugging into the electric grid instead of running their engines.

This work supports the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity, which bridges the gap between R&D and the commercial availability of advanced technologies that reduce petroleum use and improve air quality.


Browse NREL’s commercial vehicle technology evaluation publications.