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Energy and Global Security

Prospective Benefits of Vehicle Technologies

Assessing the potential benefits from vehicle, engine, energy storage, materials and fuel technologies from multiple perspectives


Argonne National Laboratory assesses the potential benefits from the technologies being developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO). These assessments provide the potential future reductions in petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the U.S. on-road fleet due to successful development and commercialization of VTO technologies.

This benefit assessment links vehicle component and subsystem costs and performance metrics to vehicle price and fuel economy, to vehicle markets, and on-road use, and encompasses the entire U.S. on-road vehicle stock.


Starting with input assumptions about vehicle components from VTO and FCTO program managers, and from Argonne and industry experts, vehicles with advanced technologies are numerically simulated using Argonne’s Autonomie toolkit. Inputs are defined for the cost and other characteristics of future engines, electric traction drive systems, batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen storage, lightweight materials, improved lubricants and other vehicle technologies. From vehicle characteristics and assumptions about future fuel prices, the future market penetration of advanced-technology vehicles is modeled using vehicle choice models. The results of these are used in stock models such as Argonne’s VISION model to estimate national level fuel use and GHG emissions, based on life-cycle modeling results from Argonne’s Life-Cycle Analysis tool, GREET.

Tom Stephens coordinates this effort, from collecting and reviewing inputs and assumptions, checking vehicle modeling results, supervising market penetration modeling, and analyzing the overall projected fuel use and GHG emissions by the future stock of vehicles on the road in the U.S. to the year 2050.

Scenarios are developed that represent a future in which VTO-supported vehicle technologies are successfully deployed and alternatively, base case” that represents a future, with no further VTO technology development. The difference between these scenarios gives an estimate of the overall benefit of the VTO program.

The scenarios developed are not intended to to be predictions. Instead, they represent possible future outcomes, predicated on assumed technological progress, and other future conditions, including future electricity prices (including infrastructure costs) and future availability of electricity and hydrogen at public stations. In addition to the technology success and base case scenarios, several side cases were analyzed to assess the sensitivity of projected benefits to assumptions.

In previous years, benefits assessments for VTO light and heavy duty vehicle technologies has provided the basis for reporting the value of the VTO Program as required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. This analysis is often referred to as GPRA benefits analysis,” however, the results of this analysis are also used by VTO to address a wide range of related questions. VTO has also used results of this analysis in setting technical cost and performance targets for vehicle technologies. More generally, they proved VTO the potential economic, environmental and security benefits that can come from achieving program goals, and VTO has used these benefits assessments to communicate how VTO research and development products support DOE’s mission, and has also included these in its annual Congressional budget request.

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