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Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

Fuels and Technologies

Vehicle Fuel Economy Strategies

There are a variety of vehicle technologies and materials that can be employed to improve fuel economy. Vehicle technologies include Hybrids, low-weight materials, low rolling resistance tires, fuel-tracking devices, and synthetic oils.

Policies focused on advancing improvements in vehicle fuel economy include approaches such as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, feebates, carbon taxes, investments in research and development.


Vehicle Technologies and Materials | Policy Approaches

Vehicle Technologies and Materials

Cost and Effectiveness Estimates of Technologies Used to Reduce Light-duty Vehicle Carbon-dioxide Emissions (2008) (PDF 883KB)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This report presents EPA technical staff current assessment of the costs and effectiveness from a broad range of technologies which can be applied to cars and light-duty trucks. The report is divided into four major sections. In Section 1, we discuss the methodology used to develop cost and effectiveness estimates, including what data sources we relied upon. In Section 2, we present our estimates of the carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction potential of nearly 40 individual technologies covering five broad categories: engines, transmissions, hybrids, accessories, and others (e.g., aerodynamic improvements). These estimates are for individual technologies compared to a baseline vehicle, and the estimated effectiveness cannot simply be added up when considering a combination of technologies. This issue is addressed in Section 3 of the report, which discusses the synergistic effects of combining multiple technologies and provides an estimate of the magnitude of this impact on CO2 reduction effectiveness. Finally, Section 4 provides an estimate of the direct costs associated with each of the technologies, as well as a discussion of estimating indirect costs and the potential for future cost reductions.
Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) Conference Presentations (Sept. 2008)
United States Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
This is the presentation materials from the Diesel Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) Conference.
Hybrid-Electric Transit Buses: Status, Issues, and Benefits (2000) (PDF 4.59mb)
Transportation Research Board
This Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 59 presents an up-to-date description of emerging hybrid-electric drive technology for transit buses and discusses the technology and its status, benefits, life-cycle costs, and deployment issues. Provides transit agencies with information to compare the emissions and fuel economy expected from hybrid-electric transit buses with those expected from alternatively-fueled buses.
Increasing Feedstock Production for Biofuels: Economic Drivers, Environmental Implications, and the Role of Research (PDF 9.74mb)
Biomass Research and Development Initiative
This report seeks to inform investments in research and development needed to expand biofuel production. This analysis focuses on feedstocks; other interagency teams have projects underway for other parts of the biofuel sector (e.g., logistics). The analysis encompasses feedstocks for both conventional and advanced biofuels from agriculture and forestry sources.
Light-Duty Vehicle Technology and Fuel Economy Trends (2008)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This report provides data on the fuel economy and technology characteristics of new light-duty vehicles (cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks) for model years 1975 through 2007.
Making Cars More Fuel Efficient - Technology for Real Improvement on the Road (2005) (PDF 1.45mb)
International Energy Agency
This report provides a technical analysis of why vehicles perform better in fuel economy test procedures than they do in actual operation on the road. The practical information presented here should assist policy makers in identifying technologies and other strategies, such as offer driver training to promote fuel efficiency on the roads and provide incentives for the uptake of the relevant technologies.
Modeling of Advanced Technology Vehicles (2003) (PDF 991kb)
U.S. Department of Transportation, Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting
This report reviews some currently-used methods for representing advanced technology vehicles in engineering and market simulation models, and considers the potential for simple generalized methodologies for use in the latter.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Publications Database
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center website provides plug-in hybrid electric vehicle-related publications, reports, and newsletters.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (2007)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This fact sheet describes the benefits and costs of plug-in hybrids. It also provides information about their future development as well as State and local policies to encourage their use.
Tires and Passenger Vehicle Fuel Economy: Informing Consumers, Improving Performance (2006) (PDF 927kb)
Transportation Research Board
This TRB Special Report 286 examines the contribution of tires to vehicle fuel consumption and the prospects for improving tire energy performance without adversely affecting tire life, traction capability, and retail prices. Reviews technical literature and analyzes energy performance data from almost 200 passenger tires on the market today.
Transportation Fuels for the Future (2008) (PDF 1.4mb)
Western Governors' Association
This report is intended to be a policy roadmap to guide the integration of alternative fuels into a transportation fuel portfolio, taking into account the specific resource attributes of the West. The fuels and technologies covered are biodiesel and renewable biodiesel, bio-fuels, coal-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, propane, electricity, and hydrogen. The roadmap set out in the report addresses: potential resources, technologies and capabilities in Western states to develop alternative fuels; issues surrounding sustainable feedstock development, environmental impacts, and availability of conversion technologies; challenges common to all fuel types, including changing century-old dependence on petroleum; and the development of measurable goals and analytical tools to determine and mitigate the environmental impacts of new fuels.

Policy Approaches

Resources related to policy approaches to enhance motor vehicle fuel economy.

Center for Clean Air Policy Transportation Guidebook (2007)
Center for Clean Air Policy
The CCAP Transportation Guidebook is to engage state and local officials in understanding the extent to which policy decisions impact air pollution, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. The Emissions Guidebook consists of two parts: 1) Land Use, Transit, and Demand Management, focusing on policies related to travel demand and examines the impacts of land use and investment decisions on transportation emissions and 2) Vehicle Technology and Fuels, focusing on measures that influence vehicle technology, fuel and operational choices that impact transportation emissions.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The purpose of CAFE legislation is to reduce energy consumption by increasing the fuel economy of cars and light trucks. This site contains information about the CAFE program, including a program overview, related rulemaking activities, research, fleet characteristics, and summaries of manufacturers' fuel economy performance since 1978.
Fuel-Efficient Road Vehicle Non-Engine Components - Potential Savings and Policy Recommendations (2007) (PDF 549kb)
International Energy Agency
This paper studies policies and measures to improve on-road fuel efficiency of vehicles by focusing on energy efficiency of automobile components not generally considered in official fuel efficiency test. Review of current policies and industry activities, analysis of fuel saving potential, and recommendation of possible policies to realize the potential.
Greener Fuels, Greener Vehicles: A State Resource Guide (2008) (PDF 740kb)
National Governors Association
This is a best practices State Resource Guide that discusses the alternative fuels and vehicles available today and the advanced technologies that will be available in the future. This guide reviews the alternative fuels and technologies currently available, examines ways for the government to promote greener transportation, and provides an overview of the core barriers to wider consumption of these new options, all in an effort to help the United States to reduce its reliance on petroleum, lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and secure a clean energy future.
Policies and Measures to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Transport Options (Light-Duty Vehicles) Technical Appendix (2000) (PDF 349kb)
International Energy Agency
This appendix provides documentation of the analysis contained in the report, including a description of the modeling system used in the analysis and a listing of data. The appendix is divided into three sections and 1) describes the model used, 2) describes the analysis of vehicle stock turnover, average fuel economy, travel levels, fuel consumption, and GHG emissions, and 3) lists the fuel economy technology database and other key data and assumptions made in the analysis.
Reducing Climate Impacts in the Transportation Sector (2009)
James S. Cannon and Daniel Sperling, Springer Netherlands
The chapters in this book examine increasing worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases, uncertain oil supply, evolving climate change science, public attitudes toward climate change, and the implications for the U.S. of growth in China, India and elsewhere. They propose methods to reduce growth in vehicle travel through alternative fuel, new technologies, and land use planning. They examine the costs and the potential for greenhouse gas reduction through deployment of advanced technology and alternative fuels and propose strategies to motivate consumers to buy fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles, including heavy duty trucks.
Spread Clean Technology with Feebates
Sightline Institute
Feebates are defined as a combination of fees and rebates that would continuously tug the entire car and truck market toward increased fuel efficiency. This webpage provides a brief overview of feebates and their incentives.

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