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Title: Evaluating the Impact of Road Grade on Simulated Commercial Vehicle Fuel Economy Using Real-World Drive Cycles

Commercial vehicle fuel economy is known to vary significantly with both positive and negative road grade. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles operating at highway speeds require incrementally larger amounts of energy to pull heavy payloads up inclines as road grade increases. Non-hybrid vehicles are then unable to recapture energy on descent and lose energy through friction braking. While the on-road effects of road grade are well understood, the majority of standard commercial vehicle drive cycles feature no climb or descent requirements. Additionally, existing literature offers a limited number of sources that attempt to estimate the on-road energy implications of road grade in the medium- and heavy-duty space. This study uses real-world commercial vehicle drive cycles from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Fleet DNA database to simulate the effects of road grade on fuel economy across a range of vocations, operating conditions, and locations. Drive-cycles are matched with vocation-specific vehicle models and simulated with and without grade. Fuel use due to grade is presented, and variation in fuel consumption due to drive cycle and vehicle characteristics is explored through graphical and statistical comparison. The results of this study suggest that road grade accounts for 1%-9% of fuel use in commercial vehicles onmore » average and up to 40% on select routes.« less
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Research Org:
NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
Country of Publication:
United States
33 ADVANCED PROPULSION SYSTEMS Commercial vehicle fuel economy; road grade; digital elevation model; powertrain simulation