Study Says Connected and Automated Vehicle Systems Could Mean 9% Reduction in Emissions

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company have found that using a Level 4 connected and automated vehicle (CAV) subsystem could increase vehicle primary energy use and GHG emissions by 3–20% due to increases in power consumption, weight, drag, and data transmission.

However, when potential operational effects of CAVs are included (such as eco-driving, platooning, and intersection connectivity), the net result is up to a 9% reduction in energy and GHG emissions in the base case. Their study is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The team modeled its BEV platform ias the 2015 Ford Focus Electric and the ICEV platform as the 2015 Ford Focus. The small, medium, and large CAV subsystems were based on the configurations in use on the Tesla Model S, Ford Fusion (AV test vehicles), and Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica, respectively.

The life cycle phases included in the study were materials production, manufacturing and assembly, use, and end of life management. Four factors needed to be considered for the use-phase analysis, the team noted:

  • The increased vehicle energy consumption due to the added electricity demand.
  • The increased fuel consumption due to the weight of the CAV subsystem.
  • Increased aerodynamic drag due to the use of exterior mounted components.
  • The burdens associated with map data transmission over wireless networks.