back to all publications

Greenhouse Gas Implications of Fleet Electrification Based on Big Data-Informed Individual Travel Patterns

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
July 2013

Environmental implications of fleet electrification highly depend on the adoption and utilization of electric vehicles at the individual level. Past research has been constrained by using aggregated data to assume all vehicles with the same travel pattern as the aggregated average. This neglects the inherent heterogeneity of individual travel behaviors and may lead to unrealistic estimation of environmental impacts of fleet electrification. Using “big data” mining techniques, this research examines real-time vehicle trajectory data for 10,375 taxis in Beijing in one week to characterize the travel patterns of individual taxis. We then evaluate the impact of adopting plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in the taxi fleet on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions based on the characterized individual travel patterns. The results indicate that 1) the largest gasoline displacement (1.1 million gallons per year) can be achieved by adopting PHEVs with modest electric range (approximately 80 miles) with current battery cost, limited public charging infrastructure, and no government subsidy; 2) reducing battery cost has the largest impact on increasing the electrification rate of vehicle mileage traveled (VMT), thus increasing gasoline displacement, followed by diversified charging opportunities; 3) government subsidies can be more effective to increase the VMT electrification rate and gasoline displacement if targeted to PHEVs with modest electric ranges (80 to 120 miles); and 4) while taxi fleet electrification can increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 115 kiloton CO2-eq per year with the current grid in Beijing, emission reduction of up to 36.5 kiloton CO2-eq per year can be achieved if the fuel cycle emission factor of electricity can be reduced to 168.7 g/km. Although the results are based on a specific public fleet, this study demonstrates the benefit of using large-scale individual-based trajectory data (big data) to better understand environmental implications of fleet electrification and inform better decision making.

Research Areas
Mobility Systems
Beijing, Environmental Impacts, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation
Cai, Hua; Xu, Ming. (20113) “Greenhouse gas implications of fleet electrification based on Big Data-informed individual travel patterns.” Environmental Science & Technology 47(16): 9035-9043.