Mass Impacts on Fuel Economies of Conventional vs. Hybrid Electric Vehicles 2004-01-0572
The strong correlation between vehicle weight and fuel economy for conventional vehicles (CVs) is considered common knowledge, and the relationship of mass reduction to fuel consumption reduction for conventional vehicles (CVs) is often cited without separating effects of powertrain vs. vehicle body (glider), nor on the ground of equivalent vehicle performance level. This paper challenges the assumption that this relationship is easily summarized. Further, for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) the relationship between mass, performance and fuel consumption is not the same as for CVs, and vary with hybrid types. For fully functioning (all wheel regeneration) hybrid vehicles, where battery pack and motor(s) have enough power and energy storage, a very large fraction of kinetic energy is recovered and engine idling is effectively eliminated. This paper assesses two important impacts of shifting from conventional to hybrid vehicles in terms of the mass vs. fuel economy relationship - 1) significant improvements in fuel economy with little or no change in mass, and 2) once a switch to hybrid powertrains has been made, the effectiveness of mass reduction in improving fuel economy will be diminished relative to conventional vehicles. In this paper, we discuss vehicle tractive load breakdowns and impacts of hybridization on vehicle efficiency, discuss capture of kinetic energy by conversion to electrical energy via regenerative braking, assess benefits of shutting off the engine when the vehicle does not require power, and investigate energy losses associated with vehicle mass.