NREL Estimates U.S. Hybrid Electric Vehicle Fuel Savings

Jun 21, 2007

Hybrid electric vehicles have saved close to 230 million gallons – or 5.5 million barrels – of fuel in the United States since their introduction in 1999, according to a recent analysis conducted at the U. S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“Sales of hybrid electric vehicles have increased an average of 72 percent a year for the past five years and in 2006 the average fuel economy based on new EPA estimates was 35 miles per gallon for new hybrid models sold in the U.S,” said Kevin Bennion, an NREL vehicle systems analysis research engineer.

To estimate the total fuel saved by hybrid electric vehicles, NREL researchers combined hybrid electric vehicle sales and fuel economy data to determine fuel savings. The fuel economy data included new EPA mpg ratings, but old EPA mpg ratings and user-reported values were also reviewed.

VISION modeling software developed by Argonne National Laboratory was used to determine vehicle stock – the total number of hybrid electric vehicles in use in a given year. The annual vehicle stock estimates and the vehicle sales data were combined to calculate fuel savings of replacing a conventional vehicle with a hybrid. The conventional vehicles selected were models by the same manufacturer that most closely matched the hybrid electric vehicles in terms of size, weight and performance.

In 2006, the average fuel economy improvement for hybrid electric vehicles over the replaced conventional vehicle was approximately 45 percent.

Even with this improvement, hybrid electric vehicles would have to replace a significant portion of the total light duty vehicle fleet to have an impact on petroleum imports. For example, net imports of oil in 2003 were 11.24 million barrels per day, and 8.55 million barrels per day went to light duty vehicle use.

“Although the fuel savings from hybrid electric vehicles to date is relatively small compared to the total fuel use, as the technology matures and these numbers increase they can have a significant impact in reducing our overall transportation fuel use,” said NREL senior research engineer Matthew Thornton who leads NREL’s vehicle systems analysis research in the Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems.

The Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems has conducted research to advance hybrid electric vehicles viability in the marketplace since the early 1990s. Today, the Center focuses on developing and evaluating new technologies such as hydrogen, biofuels and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Explore further: Matched 'hybrid' systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Toyota raises forecast on profit jump, weak yen

Nov 05, 2014

Toyota raised its annual earnings forecast after posting a 23 percent jump in quarterly profit Wednesday as a favorable exchange rate added to the momentum of the Japanese automaker's sales growth.

Preparing for a zero-emission urban bus system

Oct 30, 2014

In order to create a competitive and sustainable transport system, the EU must look to alternative fuels to replace or complement petrol and diesel. Not only will this reduce transport emissions but it will ...

Partnerships drive new transportation solutions

Oct 27, 2014

Hybrid car sales have taken off in recent years, with a fuel-sipping combination of electric- and gas-powered technologies that simultaneously deliver energy efficiency, low emissions, and strong performance. ...

Recommended for you

Are electric cars greener? Depends on where you live

Nov 25, 2014

Long thought a thing of the future, electric cars are becoming mainstream. Sales in the United States of plug-in, electric vehicles nearly doubled last year. Credible forecasts see the number rising within ...

Building a better battery

Nov 25, 2014

Imagine an electric car with the range of a Tesla Model S - 265 miles - but at one-fifth the $70,000 price of the luxury sedan. Or a battery able to provide many times more energy than today's technology ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.