Research

Meet the PH&EV Research Team! From left: Gil Tal, Ken Kurani, Dahlia Garas, Rosaria Berliner, Alan Jenn, Scott Hardman, Kathleen Yip, Angela Sanguinetti, Tom Turrentine

Ongoing Research

Community Planning

  • GIS Toolbox

    The GIS EV Planning Toolbox is a tool designed for use with ESRI’s ArcGIS software. This tool can aid organizations and researchers in exploring the best place to locate plug-in electric vehicle charging infrastructure in California.  Free datasets are provided for users to analyze market distribution, fast charging, and workplace charging for electric vehicles (only California datasets are provided). The tool can suggest the location of demand based on a market size input from the user and can provide the location and magnitude anticipated demand for charging infrastructure given the market location. Click here for more information.

  • EV Explorer

    The EV Explorer is a tool designed for drivers to assess what vehicle will best suit their lifestyle. Users can input any car that is in the fueleconomy.gov database to see annual fuel costs based on their daily commute or other travel. The tool can compare four cars at a time, on metrics such as miles per gallon, range, and time to charge. Internal Combustion Engine vehicles can be compared to Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, and Plug-in Electric Vehicles. The EV Explorer uses average statewide gas prices and electricity prices when calculating costs, but it is possible to specify these parameters as well. Users can manipulate conditions for electric vehicles (such as charging at home or at work, as well as the efficiency of the charger) to best simulate a real-world experience. Click here to visit the tool.

  • Used PEV Market Study

    The used car market for conventional vehicles is a large percent of annual vehicle sales; therefore, it has a large impact on the wider market. The used PEV market has recently begun to grow in California, with the potential for more environmentally-friendly choices for those who cannot buy new PEVs – and for impacts on the sale of new ones.

    This study, sponsored by the California Air Resources Board, is investigating the benefits of used PEVs in the market and the economics behind their valuation and purchase. Results from this study can be used to inform policies in the overall PEV market to make PEVs a more sustainable transportation solution.

    Initial results found that most used PEVs entered the market after only 2-3 years of usage by the original owner, still under warranty, and with 23,400 miles logged on average. Used buyers were generally aware that their batteries were no longer at full capacity, most considering them to be at 90-99% of full capacity. 40.5% of used PEV buyers did not know about the Federal Tax Credit on new PEVs; fewer knew about the California PEV Clean Vehicle Rebate. HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) access stickers increased the price people would pay for a used PEV. People drove used PHEVs more than their new PHEV counterparts, but most used BEVs were driven less than their new counterparts. Some of the high-use PHEVs were used mostly as hybrids and were plugged in less than five times per month. These results may indicate that used PEV buyers are less committed to electric driving. Project page and products will be updated once available.

  • City of Vancouver Infrastructure Strategy

    The PH&EV Research Center partnered with the City of Vancouver to examine the ways local governments can influence the growth of the plug-in electric vehicle market as well as increasing overall use of PEVs by investing in charging infrastructure. The report lays out different strategies for implementing charging infrastructure, including type of charger (home, workplace, public, or DC fast) and pricing scenario (free, less than or equal to home charging, and more than home charging). The benefits of and challenges to implementing the various scenarios are explored in depth. Click here for more information.

  • City of Davis Alternative Fuel Readiness Plan

    This infrastructure plan is the result of a collaboration between the City of Davis, the PH&EV Research Center, Cool Davis, and the Valley Climate Action Center. The goals of the plan are to increase eVMT (electric vehicle miles traveled, increase the number of PEVs in use in the City of Davis, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from the transportation sector, and prepare to better integrate electric vehicles with the electrical grid. Click here for more information.

Behavioral Research – PEV Drivers

To find out when, how, and why people drive their plug-in vehicles, the Center has many wide ranging, multi-year projects that explore consumer preference and behavior.

  • eVMT Project

    The eVMT (Electric Vehicle Miles Traveled) study is the PH&EV Center’s flagship project. It consists of an extensive survey of PEV owners across the state of California and an intensive, year-long data collection using vehicle loggers from a subset of these owners. The project aims to understand the day-to-day use of PEVs under real world, household conditions, and what barriers or drawbacks of PEVs are most important in preventing people from adopting them. This project will provide key information for policymakers to draw on in creating strategies that aim to increase PEV use and advance the transition to cleaner vehicles. Click here for more information.

  • San Diego PEV Market and Infrastructure Usage Project

    In partnership with the San Diego EV project, the PH&EV Research Center explored aspects of consumer demand for PEVs. Topics included: consumers’ preferred PEVs to purchase, what motivates PEV demand and use, driving and charging behavior, use of charging infrastructure, and the environmental impacts of actual PEV use. The behavioral data was collected from buyers of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt through in-person interviews and web-based surveys. Click here for more information.

  • Gender Differences in PEV Use and Adoption

    In the current PEV market, women make up less than half of PEV buyers and lessees. This paper analyzes conversations with women and men to determine if there are differences in the way each gender talks about PEVs, and examines how their experiences may diverge. A key finding is that men in the study spoke more to future developments in the PEV market than women; women tended to think of PEVs as a practical, everyday tool. This indicates that women’s voices may be underrepresented in decisions about how PEV technology and policy should be adapted in the future. Click here for more information.

  • Toyota Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis

    The PH&EV Research Center has partnered with the Toyota Research Institute to examine the role PEV usage can play in GHG reductions. Building on a previous analysis by Toyota that looked at the GHG emissions of various PHEVs under different charging and driving conditions, the PH&EV Center is adding additional scenarios with more vehicles and a greater variety of driving behaviors in order to determine whether GHG emissions can be reduced significantly by changing behavior during travel rather than travel patterns themselves. Further analysis will explore whether there is a correlation between modeled greenhouse gases and sociodemographic and spatial variables of households, such as location and travel diaries. Project page and products will be updated once available.

     

Consumer Research – Non-PEV Drivers

The PH&EV Center has been highly involved in early research to determine interest in PEVs and distinguish what aspects of PEVs are most appealing to non-PEV drivers. Interviews, surveys, and focus groups have resulted in the publication of many reports and papers investigating marketing possibilities for PEVs.

  • Attitudes toward Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs)

    The plug-in vehicle market may be expanding, but still only 3% of new car sales in California are ZEVs. Other states have even lower percentages. California has ambitious goals to have 1.5 million ZEVs on the road by 2025, but only about 300,000 have been sold since 2011. It will be crucial to increase awareness of ZEVs among the population, because currently a significant barrier to greater adoption is a lack of knowledge of the opportunities PEVs can provide. This study looks at awareness, knowledge, experience, and attitudes of American new car buyers regarding ZEVs, most of whom do not own one themselves. Researchers used surveys and interviews of people in California and 12 other U.S. states to examine people’s valuation of ZEVs and whether they intend to purchase one in the future. Click here for more information.

 

Electrical Grid and Infrastructure

  • Electricity Dispatch Model

    In the United States, the transportation sector consumes approximately five billion barrels of oil annually and accounts for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions.  The potential climate impacts of the transportation sector has led to a transition towards cleaner, alternative fuel vehicles such as electric vehicles (EVs)—touted as “zero-emission” vehicles.  Policies such as the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate in California and incentives like the federal Plug-In Electric Vehicle Credit (IRC 30D) have accelerated the transition. However, if the ultimate goal of the transition is to create a cleaner transportation system, it is necessary to have a proper accounting of emissions to understand the true impact of EVs. Our researchers constructed a nationwide electricity dispatch model based on outputs from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Planning Model (IPM) used in the assessment of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).  Using future projections of EV sales as well as a number of scenarios for charging behavior, a profile of electric vehicle emissions can be captured on sub-state level and importantly across a lengthy time span from 2016 through 2040. Click here for more information.

  • PG&E Siting DC Fast Chargers Strategy

    The PH&EV Research Center collaborated with Pacific Gas & Electric, Energy & Environmental Economics, PlugShare, and Ricardo to develop a plan for siting DC Fast Chargers in PG&E’s territory. DC Fast Chargers can restore the bulk of an EV’s battery mileage in as little as thirty minutes, but the high cost of installing fast chargers makes placing them in optimal locations critical to achieve the greatest return on investment. The PH&EV Center modeled charging demand to determine the areas in PG&E’s territory with the highest unmet future demand, taking into account EV adoption up to 2025 and existing DC Fast charging stations. This produced a list of 300 one-mile radius bubbles with the greatest potential demand. Potential charger locations were then mapped within these high-demand areas. Click here for more information.

  • NEPTUNE

    NEPTUNE stands for Navy Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence and is a pilot program of the U.S. Office of Naval Research. The UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center (EEC) is facilitating four research projects through the NEPTUNE program. As an affiliate of the EEC, the PH&EV Research Center is working on Project 1, Plug-in Electric Vehicle Decision Making Data Based Tools, which focuses on creating and improving PEV analysis tools using existing travel and charging behavior datasets. These tools will be useful for developing strategies for implementing charging infrastructure and managing grid loads. To learn more about NEPTUNE, visit the EEC’s website  or click here for more information.

 

Consumer Energy Interface Research

  • cEnergi

    Consumer Energy Interfaces (cEnergi) investigates the potential for eco-feedback to promote resilient and sustainable relationships between individuals, communities, and natural resources. We define eco-feedback broadly as information about individual or group behavior related to resource (water, energy, food) processes (generation, storage, waste) provided back to that individual or group. cEnergi is an interdisciplinary partnership of researchers and students from Transportation, Computer Science, Design, and the Campus Energy Efficiency groups. The team has created a number of applications and feedback systems that allow users to observe and interact with energy data. Read more about the projects and use the apps through the following links:

 

Past Research

  • Dealer Study (2014-2015)

    Improving the market share of PEVs in California is crucial to achieving the state’s zero emission goals. This study explored the experiences of dealers and buyers during the retail process of buying a PEV, and how the differences between the PEV retail experience and the conventional vehicle retail experience impacts PEV sales and the market. Click here for more information.

  • Green Electricity (2011-2012)

    Consumer association of electric vehicles with green electricity may enhance the market success of PEVs. This research project, conducted in 2011-2012, investigated responses of consumers to green electricity rates, plans, and messaging. Researchers conducted focus group interviews of PEV lessees and owners in different utility service areas and administered an online survey of conventional vehicle drivers and PEV drivers to understand interest in and valuation of low-carbon electricity. Click here for more information.

  • Chrysler (2011)

    UC Davis partnered with Chrysler and the City of San Francisco to implement a fleet of Chrysler Ram 1500s PHEVs over a 3-year period, as part of a larger study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy exploring the utility of this PHEV design. Data was collected from the vehicles while they were in use to gain information about cost savings, environmental benefits, and the effectiveness of the human-machine interface. Click here for more information.

  • Mini E Consumer Study (2011)

    In partnership with BMW, UC Davis undertook a year-long consumer study that explored user behavior, infrastructure use, costs, and environmental benefits for a large group of users of MINI E electric vehicles. Through online and telephone surveys, diaries, and in-person interviews, the research team contributed to a growing field of knowledge about electric vehicle use. Click here for more information.