Plug-in Hybrid Fuel Consumption Can Be Cut By 10% Via Logged Driving Routes

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The fuel consumption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can be cut by as much as 10% (for long-distance driving) through the use of logged driving routes, according to new research from the Chalmers University of Technology.

Scientists at Chalmers University of Technology have come up with a method to automatically identify recurrent travel routes from logged driving data and compute optimal control rules for these. Moreover, Viktor Larsson has developed methods to make the calculations more efficient in terms of computation time and memory. The strategy can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10% compared to conventional methods. Image Credit: Volvo Car Corporation

By scheduling the use of the battery for specific portions of a journey, fuel consumption can be decreased considerably (for some trips) — but in order to do this, the car needs to “remember” the routes commonly used.

Enter the new research — a new method has been developed that allows a vehicle to identify “recurrent routes and pre-compute when the battery should be used, and when running the car on petrol is more energy efficient.”

Importantly, the method can be implemented nearly immediately — in vehicles that are already in production, and just using existing technology.

Creator Viktor Larsson, from the Chalmers University of Technology, explains: “After each trip, the vehicle can upload driving statistics to a server that identifies recurrent routes and calculates an optimal strategy for the energy management. The strategy is transferred to the car. For the next trip, the car can either try to identify the route completely by itself or ask the driver to verify if any of the most common routes will be driven.”

Larsson thinks that perhaps the system could be made available via an app on the driver’s phone, rather than running on a server.

Over the past year or so, Larsson has been working with Volvo Car Corporation to explore the idea — allowing for the development of features that have now been simulated and tested in an actual vehicle, the V60 PHEV.

“In the simulations we made, we saw that fuel consumption could be reduced by up to 10% compared to the strategy currently in use,” notes Viktor Larsson.

A very interesting, simple, effective-sounding approach to improving PHEV performance — to my mind anyways. Seems very likely that this technology will make its way to market in the next few years.

In related news — Volvo’s PHEV version of the XC90 will likely be launching sometime relatively soon (a fully electric version follows later), perhaps in a year or so. Maybe (unlikely, I know..) the system could find its way into use with that model? The Volvo V60 PHEV is quite popular in some European countries, but it’s unclear if the V60 PHEV will ever come to US dealerships.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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