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Personal vehicle electrification and charging solutions for high-energy days


Questions remain on the effectiveness of different proposals for battery electric vehicle (BEV) charging and other supporting infrastructure. Here we investigate options for charging BEVs and supplementing them with long-range vehicles, including on the infrequent high-energy days that can otherwise impede personal vehicle electrification. We examine travel activities and their energy requirements—in Seattle and US-wide—to identify strategies that fit existing lifestyles. We find that home charging on- or off-street is pivotal in all strategies and that highway fast charging and/or supplementary vehicles can be impactful additions. For example, home charging can support the year-round energy requirements of approximately 10% of Seattle vehicles, assuming a lower-cost BEV, but adding occasional highway fast charging or supplementary vehicles on four days per year raises this value to nearly 40%. Infrequent supplementary vehicles may be needed even as battery technology improves. Our results outline potential solutions for nations, cities, companies and communities seeking to support widespread vehicle electrification despite the challenge of high-energy days.

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Fig. 1: BEV trip energy intensity and vehicle-day energy distribution in Seattle.
Fig. 2: Longitudinal vehicle trip patterns.
Fig. 3: VEP in Seattle with different charging availabilities.
Fig. 4: The characteristics of highway fast charging required to electrify vehicle-days in Seattle.
Fig. 5: The effect of supplementary vehicles on electrification potential with different charging availabilities in Seattle.
Fig. 6: The characteristics of unelectrified vehicle-days with a 40 kWh BEV and 6.6 kW home and work charging in Seattle.
Fig. 7: The fraction of US vehicle-days electrified with different charging availabilities and the vehicle-day energy distribution in the US and Seattle.
Fig. 8: Vehicle electrification potential (VEP) with strategic packages of charging and supplementary vehicles in Seattle.

Data availability

The 2004–2006 Puget Sound Regional Council Traffic Choices Study data that were analysed during the current study are available to the public from National Renewable Energy Laboratory at The 2017 National Household Travel Survey is also available to the public from Oak Ridge National Laboratory at The trip energy consumption data produced in this study can be reproduced by applying the TripEnergy model to the two travel datasets described above. Source data are provided with this paper.

Code availability

All steps in analysis are described either in equations (17) or in previous manuscripts documenting the TripEnergy model10,27 (US patent no. US20180045526A1).


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This research was funded (under the MIT Portugal Program project title: Climate-Driven Technologies for Low-Carbon Cities (C-Tech), reference 45919) by the European Regional Development Fund’s Operational Program for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (COMPETE 2020), the Lisbon Portugal Regional Operational Program (LISBOA 2020), and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). This research was also funded by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) TRANSNET Program (award no. DE-AR0000611).

Author information




J.E.T. developed the study concept. J.E.T. and W.W. designed the methodology. W.W., S.R., Z.A.N. and J.E.T. built the model. W.W. and J.E.T. performed the analysis. J.E.T. and W.W. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jessika E. Trancik.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The patent of TripEnergy model used for trip energy estimation is pending. The patent applicant is Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The inventors are J. E. Trancik, Z. A. Needell and J. McNerney. The application no. is US20180045526A1.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–15, Figs. 1–38 and Tables 1–7.

Reporting Summary

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

The first column is raw data of Seattle trip fuel economy used to plot the histogram in Fig. 1a. The second column is raw data of Seattle vehicle-day energy requirements used to plot the histogram in Fig. 1b.

Source Data Fig. 3

The first column is the range of battery capacities plotted in kilowatt-hours, the second to eighth column each corresponds to VEP with (2) work charging; (3) home charging; (4) home and work charging; (5) home, work and overnight public charging; (6) home, work and ubiquitous public charging, (7) home, work and fast charging on the longest highway trip per day; and (8) home, work and fast charging on all highway trips.

Source Data Fig. 4

The first column is raw data of fast charging frequency used to plot the histogram in Fig. 4a. The second column is raw data of fast charging duration used to plot the histogram in Fig. 4b.

Source Data Fig. 5

The first column is the range of battery capacities plotted in kilowatt-hours. The second to fifth column each corresponds to VEPFlex with supplementary vehicles on 105 days, 10 days, 4 days and VEP in Fig. 5a. The sixth to ninth column each corresponds to VEPFlex with supplementary vehicles on 105 days, 10 days, 4 days and VEP in Fig. 5b.

Source Data Fig. 6

The first column is the fraction of unelectrified Seattle vehicle-days for each date in Fig. 6a. The second column is the fraction of unelectrified Seattle vehicle-days for each holiday period in Fig. 6b. The third column is the fraction of unelectrified Seattle vehicle-days for each duration in Fig. 6c.

Source Data Fig. 7

The first column is the range of battery capacities plotted in kilowatt-hours. The second to fourth column correspond to DAP when home, work and fast charging are available on all highway trips; home and work charging are available; and home charging is available in Fig. 7a. The fifth column is raw data of US vehicle-day energy requirements used to plot the US distribution in Fig. 7b. The sixth column is raw data of Seattle vehicle-day energy requirements used to plot the Seattle distribution in Fig. 7b.

Source Data Fig. 8

The first, third, fifth, seventh column are VEP(Flex) with supplementary vehicles on 105 days, 10 days, 1 day and 0 days with a 40 kWh BEV under the four charging availability scenarios from top to bottom in the figure. The other columns are VEP(Flex) with a 100 kWh BEV.

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Wei, W., Ramakrishnan, S., Needell, Z.A. et al. Personal vehicle electrification and charging solutions for high-energy days. Nat Energy 6, 105–114 (2021).

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