Skip to main content
Energy Systems and Infrastructure Analysis

Heavy Vehicle Characterization and Benefits Analysis

Estimating potential future benefits from technologies being developed under U.S. Department of Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) relies on Argonne National Laboratory to estimate potential future benefits from the technologies being developed under VTO projects. In particular, benefits from future reductions in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are estimated. VTO uses these benefits estimates to communicate how VTO research and development products support DOE’s mission, and has included these in its annual Congressional Budget Request.

Historically, this analysis, combined with estimates of benefits from VTO light-duty vehicle program, has provided the assessment of the value of VTO’s 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 as the need arises and for assessing specific components of VTO’s heavy vehicle program, such as the SuperTruck program. These serve as the basis for assessing some of the economic, environmental, and security benefits associated with achieving program goals.

Argonne National Laboratory (through a subcontractor, TA Engineering, Inc.) is responsible for developing the benefits estimates for EERE-VTO heavy vehicle technology research activities. Argonne researchers assess potential future benefits using four primary reference sources:

  • Technology energy efficiency and fuel use characteristics as provided by the managers of the technology programs;
  • Vehicle characteristics and use information as obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2002 Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey;
  • Truck operator investment requirements, based on surveys conducted by trade associations; and
  • Important background information, such as energy prices and baseline technology fuel economies from DOE’s Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) reports.

By categorizing vehicles according to usage patterns, researchers can identify which vehicle types accumulate the greatest number of miles, and therefore, offer the best potential to benefit from an investment in energy-conserving technology. This is taken into account in modeling market penetration of advanced-technology vehicles. The resulting on-road stock is characterized using a stock model which estimates the U.S. national-level fuel use and GHG emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Two scenarios are constructed, one representing a future with successful development and commercialization of VTO-developed technologies, and one representing no further investment by VTO in these technologies.