Real World Testing of Alternative Energy Vehicles

The United States Department of Energy (DoE) is collecting “real world” data on a variety of alternative energy vehicles with, among others, the help of Intertek.

The DoE said testing includes vehicle performance, durability and operational costs, with the goal of helping consumers and the automotive industry better understand how vehicle technologies intended to reduce the consumption of petroleum actually perform in the streets.


According to Intertek, testing at Intertek’s Phoenix location starts with selecting and acquiring the advanced technology-equipped vehicles directly from a dealer, just as any consumer would purchase their car. Once equipped with Intertek’s data logging systems, vehicle performance data is collected at a closed course test track, including vehicle acceleration, braking performance, top speed and full-electric range testing for vehicles that use batteries for some or all of their motive energy. One of each model being tested is also sent to one of the DoE’s national laboratories for more detailed laboratory testing and evaluation. This, and a number of other data, establishes a baseline that is compared to other vehicles tested and to the vehicle’s own performance through the life of the test.

Intertek added through various fleet operators, the vehicles are then driven daily for nearly 200,000 miles over three years, all while collecting data on the overall performance of the vehicle and its advanced technologies. Each car is equipped with Intertek’s data loggers, which use Wi-Fi to automatically upload the operational data. The fleet operators also collect and record all refueling, maintenance and repair costs in order to track the real world performance and the cost of ownership.

Per Intertek, this combination of real world and laboratory analysis provides a more comprehensive understanding of what a customer and the industry can expect once they choose one of these alternative energy vehicles.

“There are many different types of alternative energy vehicle technologies available today and the manufacturers are rapidly developing more to meet both the demands of their customers and the demands of ever increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations,” said Tim Hubbard, Sr. VP of Intertek’s Transportation Technologies Business Line. “But for the average customer it can be quite confusing to see the benefits and clearly understand how they can fit into their lifestyle. Intertek Phoenix is working with the DoE to help take some of that mystery away by performing these extensive real-world evaluations and then publishing the data for everyone to use and consider.”

Results from Intertek’s testing are compiled and the information is made available to the public and industry on the Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity section of the Idaho National Lab.

Intertek added the Phoenix location is constantly updating its fleet of vehicles as new technologies are introduced and as vehicles complete their test cycle. The models currently under evaluation (and their alternative fuel type) include:

2012 Honda Civic GX NGV (Natural Gas)

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Fully Electric Vehicle (EV))

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO eAssist (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV))

2013 Chevrolet Volt (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV))

2013 Ford C-Max Energi (PHEV)

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid (HEV)

2013 Ford Focus Electric (EV)

2013 Ford Fusion Energi (PHEV)

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid (HEV)

2013 Nissan Leaf (EV)

2013 Toyota Prius PHEV (PHEV)

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (HEV)

2013 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (Diesel)

2014 Honda Accord PHEV (PHEV)

2014 Smart Fortwo ED (EV)


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