Date of Award

5-2013

Embargo Period

11-7-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor(s)

Jeremy Michalek

Second Advisor

Chris Hendrickson

Abstract

This thesis examines life cycle cost, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, petroleum use, and policy implications of scenarios for electrified vehicles and charging infrastructure in the U.S., addressing several questions: What mix of vehicles minimizes life cycle cost? GHG emissions? What are the implications of workplace charging in addition to home charging? How much current and potential U.S. residential charging exists? What are the costs and GHG emissions of fast-charging and battery swapping service stations? How sensitive are these results to uncertain parameters? What factors are most critical? and What are the policy implications?

Results indicate that without sufficiently clean electricity, plug-in vehicles (PEVs) with home and workplace charging do not offer substantial reductions in GHG emissions compared to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). Benefits improve with low-emission electricity generation. High gas prices ($6/gal) cause PEVs to appear in minimum cost solutions and combined with low vehicle and battery costs (DOE 2030 targets) cause PEVs to dominate.

Currently 79% of households but only 56% of vehicles have home parking where charging could be installed. Excluding renters, who face additional barriers, less than half of U.S. vehicles have reliable access to off-street parking where charging could be installed. This places a major limit on potential penetration of PEVs for the foreseeable future.

Battery swapping stations cost 40% more per vehicle served than fast charging stations without the cost of waiting time during service, but 50% less when it is included. Battery swapping’s cost advantage requires vehicle and battery standardization.

Several policy implications are identified. Gas prices and vehicle and battery prices are identified as price levers to encourage adoption and reduce petroleum consumption, but clean electricity is also needed for GHG emissions reductions. Lack of residential charging could curb adoption and needs attention since parking infrastructure turns over more slowly than the vehicle fleet. With clean electricity, dedicated workplace charging further reduces GHGs. Battery electric vehicle (BEV) adoption is restricted by limited range. Rapid BEV refueling options include fast charging, which incurs costly waiting times during service, or battery swapping, which is faster and potentially less costly but requires vehicle and battery standardization.

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