Determining the Impact of Evolving Technologies and Programs on Future Fleet Changes and Air Quality

Focus Area

Air Quality


Air Quality






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Background: New vehicle technologies, publically sponsored programs, and public-private partnerships designed for various reasons but applicable to reduce vehicle-generated emissions have been emerging for a decade or more. These include various versions of electric and fuel cell vehicles, connected and autonomously-driven vehicles, enhanced battery storage capacity for extend EV trips, along with Federal, State and local programs created to encourage the adoption of low-polluting or non-polluting fleets. A transition to low/zero emission vehicles and fleets may be “accelerated” as the adoption of technologies and supporting program advances. Investigating and evaluating the potential emission reduction impacts may assist DOTs and MPOs in their efforts to control mobile source related emissions. Some examples of programs, products, and services may include: 1) FHWA’s Alternative Fuels Corridor Program 2) VW Settlement Agreement’s Zero Emission Development Plan 3) Role of/potential use of “drones” for product deliveries resulting in reducing traffic volume 4) Incorporation of “connected” vehicles, “autonomous” vehicles into an areas vehicle fleet 5) Impact of ecommerce (Amazon, eBay,…) in reducing traffic volumes 6) Vehicle driving trends such as use of services including Uber and Lyft 7) Role of mobile technology such as smart phones and applications that enable drivers to “re-route” to avoid traffic delays 8) New Heavy Duty vehicle fleet technologies (such as Tesla’s “semitruck” and Toyota’s Fuel Cell “semitruck” [California trials]) 9) Taxi fleets adoption of “green vehicles” It is reasonable to assume that these types of technologies and programs, and perhaps others, will have a role in facilitating the transition to a lower mobile source emission environment through cleaner cars, reduced traffic or both. It is possible that the impact of the adoption of these technologies and programs may result in a faster reduction in the emissions generated by highway vehicles than has been assumed in current State and regional planning documents which could benefit areas designated nonattainment or maintenance for one or more pollutants. Objective: The new technologies, programs and policies noted above are being tested and can serve as an indicator of how future mobile source emission reductions will occur. The objective of this project will be to investigate these technologies and programs with the goal of developing estimates of potential emission reductions achievable for criteria pollutants, mobile source air toxic pollutants, and GHG pollutants by their integration into vehicle fleets. The finding may provide insight to not only to how emissions reduction assumptions may be impacted but also provide information that could be used to design programs or policies that would facilitate the incorporation of these changes into an area’s vehicle fleet. A twenty-year time horizon is suggested for the study. Tasks (including deliverables): Potential tasks are outlined below. In general, panel review and approval is needed with each task. 1. Develop a listing of most “conceivable” technologies and programs currently in existence, such as those listed above (but not limited only to those noted above) that do or could lead to the reduction of vehicle-related emissions. 2. Develop possible projections of emission reductions based on the incorporation of each low-emitting/no-emitting vehicle technology and Federal, State, and local program promoting cleaner vehicles. Using a table-like matrix, outline each technology or program selected and its capacity for reducing emissions (i.e., quantity of emitted mass reduced of PM, CO, etc…). For instance, for each percentage increase in electrical vehicles, what quantity (tons/year) of emissions could be expected to be reduced? For instance, determine the number of vehicles projected to be removed from transportation facilities (and the resulting emission quantities) if trends to adopt “Uber-like” services continue? Estimated emitted mass reductions should be calculated using the MOVES2014a emission model and made on a consistent basis between technologies and programs be it daily or yearly. 3. Evaluate the current assumptions for fleet turnover/fleet replacement. This will serve as a “baseline” condition by assuming the commonly used projected turnover rates of various vehicles/fleets and incorporation rates of new technologies. 4. Evaluate the potential impact of an accelerated transition from current assumed fleet composition, driver trends, etc…to the adoption of each of these technologies and programs (i.e. if changeover of electric vehicle fleet was twice assumed current rate; if e-commerce occurred (i.e. doubled) at a more rapid rate, how would that impact delivery vehicle use and personal vehicle use; the possibility that connected vehicle technologies and autonomous vehicle technologies might have on reducing vehicle emissions). Although not a given, it may be possible that many, if not most, autonomous/connected vehicles would also be electric vehicles. The purpose of this task is to consider a more rapid adoption of a program or technology should current trends illustrate greater incorporation of programs or technologies are occurring than originally assumed. Trends should be supplied to support claim. 5. Considering the findings of the previous tasks and using the baseline data from the first task, provide scenarios outlining possible emission reductions given the assumed and accelerated incorporation of each technology or program or a combination of one of more of the technologies or programs in selected nonattainment areas for various pollutants. 6. Prepare a final report with the findings.

Urgency and Payoff

This project will be important to DOTs and MPOs who develop their emission inventories for air quality purposes. The results of this project may provide DOTs and MPOs with information and options for reducing their mobile source emissions and possibly avoiding or being classified as non-attaining a particular NAAQS standard.

Suggested By

Kevin Black FHWA 410-962-2177

[email protected]