Wood, E., Burton, E., Duran, A., and Gonder, J., "Contribution of Road Grade to the Energy Use of Modern Automobiles Across Large Datasets of Real-World Drive Cycles," SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1789, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-1789.
Understanding the real-world power demand of modern automobiles is of critical importance to engineers using modeling and simulation in the design of increasingly efficient powertrains. Increased use of global positioning system (GPS) devices has made large-scale data collection of vehicle speed (and associated power demand) a reality. While the availability of real-world GPS data has improved the industry's understanding of in-use vehicle power demand, relatively little attention has been paid to the incremental power requirements imposed by road grade.This analysis quantifies the incremental efficiency impacts of real-world road grade by appending high-fidelity elevation profiles to GPS speed traces and performing a large simulation study. Employing a large, real-world dataset from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Transportation Secure Data Center, vehicle powertrain simulations are performed with and without road grade under five vehicle models. Aggregate results of this study suggest that road grade could be responsible for 1% to 3% of fuel use in light-duty automobiles.