While many experts project that connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) could significantly change the U.S. transportation sector, there is still a high level of uncertainty about the deployment of these vehicles and their energy impacts. The variety of technologies offered, costs, enabling and/or restrictive policies and legislation, and rate/nature of consumer adoption are all important factors affecting market penetration and energy consumption. Therefore, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) contracted with Z, INC., to analyze the potential energy consumption implications of CAV technologies on light-, medium-, and heavy-duty on- and off-road vehicles in the United States.

Z, INC., subcontracted Energetics to review the state of CAV technologies and project potential energy effects. Energetics’ team of engineers, analysts, and project managers provided critical input and analyses for the report. Specifically, Energetics completed the following:

Photo credit: Flickr/smoothgroover22

Photo credit: Flickr/smoothgroover22

  • Conducted a literature review and interviewed key stakeholders on the current state and projected development of CAVs, applicable technologies, and regulations
  • Discussed the potential implications of these technologies on future vehicle sales, driver behavior, ownership, and energy consumption
  • Developed a Microsoft Excel-based model to project energy consumption effects of different adoption scenarios based on the Annual Energy Outlook 2017 reference case

Recognizing that CAV technologies and regulations are rapidly developing, Energetics recommended further study as more data becomes available. Suggested further study includes the following:

  • Developing projection scenarios with all five levels of autonomy and possible ownership models available
  • Exploring the effects of human factors on trust, adoption, and usage related to vehicle miles traveled, purchasing, and ownership strategy
  • Improving the projections to include vehicle powertrain and fuel type

The results of Energetics’ research revealed five main challenges that must be addressed to facilitate the expansion of CAV market penetration: (1) technology capability, cost, and cybersecurity; (2) consumer opinion, acceptance, and use; (3) policy and regulation; (4) insurance and liability; and (5) energy and economic impact uncertainties. Despite the challenges, increasing stakeholder investment, research, and market penetration support projections that CAVs will continue to affect the future transportation landscape.

The EIA will use the report to understand CAV technology’s technical status and the potential impacts on transportation energy use for incorporation into the National Energy Modeling System, a modular computer energy system simulation model.

To learn more about the future impact of CAVs, read the full report here.