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Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

This is the May 2014 issue of the Transportation and Hydrogen Newsletter.

Photo of a Smith electric vehicle operated by Frito Lay in New York City

NREL evaluates the real-world performance of advanced vehicles operating in fleets across the country.
Photo by Smith Electric Vehicles, NREL 22851


Fleet eTraining Course Sees Impressive Participation
An eTraining course produced by NREL's federal fleet team has seen impressive participation—almost 6,000 users in the first five months. The animated course teaches users about Energy Policy Act 2005 Section 701 (EPAct Section 701), which requires federal dual-fuel vehicle drivers to fill up with alternative fuel.

May 19, 2014

Fleet DNA Tool Provides Real-World "Genetics" for Commercial Fleets

Vehicle manufacturers and fleet managers use the Fleet DNA tool to better understand the energy consumption patterns and performance demands of today's commercial vehicles. This clearinghouse of medium- and heavy-duty commercial fleet transportation data helps users optimize the design of advanced vehicle technologies or make decisions about vehicle purchases.

Evaluation of Electric Fleet Vehicles Confirms Factors Affecting Energy Efficiency

NREL's performance evaluation of about 600 medium-duty electric vehicles (EVs) aims to improve understanding of their overall use and effectiveness compared to similar conventional vehicles. Results to date confirm that EV energy efficiency is highly dependent on the load carried and the duty cycle. In the right applications, EVs can maintain a strong fuel-cost advantage over their conventional counterparts.

Study Investigates Use of Fuel Cells to Increase Electric Vehicle Range

An NREL study identified potential cost-effective scenarios for using small hydrogen fuel cell power units to increase the range of medium-duty electric vehicles. The electricity-producing fuel cell power unit would supplement the vehicle's battery pack as it nears depletion, enabling the vehicle to leverage the low cost of grid electricity for most of the miles traveled while using hydrogen fuel for range extension.

Study Finds Paint Color Can Reduce Rest Period A/C Energy Use in Long-Haul Trucks

Long-haul trucks use approximately 667 million gallons of fuel each year for rest period idling. One of the primary reasons for this idling is to provide climate control for the cab/sleeper. National-level modeling using CoolCalc shows a significant cooling benefit for lighter colors, with little downside for heating. Experiments show that switching from black to white exterior paint can potentially reduce daily electrical air conditioning energy by 20.8%, while switching from a standard blue paint to an advanced, color-matched, solar-reflective blue paint can reduce daily electrical air conditioning energy by 7.3%.

Demo Projects Introduce Medium- and Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Vehicles

The surge in U.S. natural gas discoveries, combined with the 18.3 billion tons of freight transported by truck each year, present significant opportunities for energy savings and emissions reduction through development of new engine technologies. Along with a wide array of state agencies and industry partners, NREL recently completed a development and demonstration project to help bring natural gas engines for medium- and heavy-duty vehiclesincluding garbage trucks, transit buses, and long-haul freight trucksto market.

Report Details Results of Fuel Cell Bus Evaluations in U.S. Transit Fleets

A variety of innovative transit agencies have added fuel cell buses to their fleets. NREL conducts performance evaluations of these vehicles compared to conventional buses to document the experiences of early adopters, determine the technology status, and establish lessons learned to help other fleets implement such buses. An NREL technical report details the combined results of these evaluations, which indicate that reliability and durability is on the rise.