Operations of a shared, autonomous, electric vehicle fleet: Implications of vehicle & charging infrastructure decisions

T. Donna Chen, Kara M. Kockelman, Josiah P. Hanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There are natural synergies between shared autonomous vehicle (AV) fleets and electric vehicle (EV) technology, since fleets of AVs resolve the practical limitations of today’s non-autonomous EVs, including traveler range anxiety, access to charging infrastructure, and charging time management. Fleet-managed AVs relieve such concerns, managing range and charging activities based on real-time trip demand and established charging-station locations, as demonstrated in this paper. This work explores the management of a fleet of shared autonomous electric vehicles (SAEVs) in a regional, discrete-time, agent-based model. The simulation examines the operation of SAEVs under various vehicle range and charging infrastructure scenarios in a gridded city modeled roughly after the densities of Austin, Texas. Results based on 2009 NHTS trip distance and time-of-day distributions indicate that fleet size is sensitive to battery recharge time and vehicle range, with each 80-mile range SAEV replacing 3.7 privately owned vehicles and each 200-mile range SAEV replacing 5.5 privately owned vehicles, under Level II (240-volt AC) charging. With Level III 480-volt DC fast-charging infrastructure in place, these ratios rise to 5.4 vehicles for the 80-mile range SAEV and 6.8 vehicles for the 200-mile range SAEV. SAEVs can serve 96–98% of trip requests with average wait times between 7 and 10minutes per trip. However, due to the need to travel while “empty” for charging and passenger pick-up, SAEV fleets are predicted to generate an additional 7.1–14.0% of travel miles. Financial analysis suggests that the combined cost of charging infrastructure, vehicle capital and maintenance, electricity, insurance, and registration for a fleet of SAEVs ranges from $0.42 to $0.49 per occupied mile traveled, which implies SAEV service can be offered at the equivalent per-mile cost of private vehicle ownership for low-mileage households, and thus be competitive with current manually-driven carsharing services and significantly cheaper than on-demand driver-operated transportation services. When Austin-specific trip patterns (with more concentrated trip origins and destinations) are introduced in a final case study, the simulation predicts a decrease in fleet “empty” vehicle-miles (down to 3–4% of all SAEV travel) and average wait times (ranging from 2 to 4minutes per trip), with each SAEV replacing 5–9 privately owned vehicles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243 - 254
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Early online date28 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Agent-based modeling
  • Carsharing
  • Electric vehicles
  • Autonomous vehicles


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