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Beyond MPG: Characterizing and Conveying the Efficiency of Advanced Plug-In Vehicles 

Research in plug in vehicles (PHEV and BEV) has of course been ongoing for decades, however now that these vehicles are finally being produced for a mass market an intense focus over the last few years has been given to proper evaluation techniques and standard information to effectively convey efficiency information to potential consumers. The first challenge is the development of suitable test procedures. Thanks to many contributions from SAE members, these test procedures have been developed for PHEVs (SAE J1711 now available) and are under development for BEVs (SAE J1634 available later this year). A bigger challenge, however, is taking the outputs of these test results and dealing with the issue of off-board electrical energy consumption in the context of decades-long consumer understanding of MPG as the chief figure of merit for vehicle efficiency. For PHEVs, electricity displaces fuel usage, and this is highly sensitive to many factors such as driving style and distance traveled between recharge. For BEVs, the simple dilemma is: how do we describe ?miles per gallon? when there are, in fact, no gallons?! Opinions are highly varied and currently there is little consensus over very these very important issues which could have the power to make or break the plug-in vehicle market before a single vehicle is delivered to the car dealers. This talk will address the issues, and of course provide an opinion based upon an engineer?s 17 years of experience laboratory testing HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs.

Michael Duoba, Argonne National Laboratory

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