WASHINGTON – Hybrid electric vehicles have saved close to 230 million gallons – or 5.5 million barrels – of fuel in the United States since their introduction in 1999, according to a recent analysis conducted at the U. S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Sales increases. “Sales of hybrid electric vehicles have increased an average of 72 percent a year for the past five years and in 2006 the average fuel economy based on new EPA estimates was 35 miles per gallon for new hybrid models sold in the U.S,” said Kevin Bennion, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory vehicle systems analysis research engineer.
To estimate the total fuel saved by hybrid electric vehicles, researchers combined hybrid electric vehicle sales and fuel economy data to determine fuel savings.
The fuel economy data included new Environmental Protection Association (EPA) miles per gallon ratings, but old EPA mpg ratings and user-reported values were also reviewed.
Use. Modeling software was used to determine vehicle stock – the total number of hybrid electric vehicles in use in a given year.
The annual vehicle stock estimates and the vehicle sales data were combined to calculate fuel savings of replacing a conventional vehicle with a hybrid.
The conventional vehicles selected were models by the same manufacturer that most closely matched the hybrid electric vehicles in terms of size, weight and performance.
In 2006, the average fuel economy improvement for hybrid electric vehicles over the replaced conventional vehicle was approximately 45 percent.
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