Advanced Vehicles and Fuels

TSRC aims to reduce pollution from vehicle exhaust and dependence on imported fossil fuels. TSRC is analyzing the real world and potential future performance of electric, hydrogen and biofuel vehicles. Research focuses on technical performance, economics, policy analysis, behavioral response, and environmental impacts of these technologies.


  • The “California Clean Mobility Project” (CCMP) is a multi-year effort including UC campuses, California state agencies, and local air districts. This Phase III of the study builds on previous CCMP phases: 1) Phase I  included comparative research about driver perceptions and energy and environmental impacts between conventional Prius hybrid vehicles, Toyota prototype plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs), and Toyota prototype Highlander fuel-cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV-Advs); and 2) Phase II of the CCMP involved deploying 10 conventional Prius hybrid vehicles and 10 Prius PHVs in real-world driving situations in Northern California, with a similar study in Southern California.   This Phase III of the CCMP effort in Northern California expands the fleet of Toyota FCHV-Adv Highlander vehicles to 8 vehicles, supported with fueling at the UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station and the Emeryville hydrogen station operated by AC Transit.  Toyota Motor Sales is providing the vehicles for the study and project support funds are being provided by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The purpose of this phase of the research is to gain a stronger understanding of driver response to the FCHVs with the 700-bar fueling capability (over 300 miles of driving range in the Toyota vehicles), as well as the collection of technical vehicle performance data. This information will be used to help inform associated technical, economic, and environmental assessments of FCHVs and other advanced vehicles. From January to November 2013, over 50,000 miles had been accumulated on the fleet of FCHV-adv vehicles.  
  • With funding from the University of California’s Multi-campus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI) program and San Jose State University's Mineta Transportation Institute, researchers at TSRC are conducting a series of studies to explore motorists' reaction to public education media regarding carbon footprinting and ecodriving and in-vehicle fuel efficiency feedback devices. Carbon footprinting refers to information about how individual actions reduce or increase personal greenhouse gas emissions. Ecodriving refers to driving techniques and maintenance recommendations that reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while driving. TSRC also collaborated with researchers at UC Riverside, UC Irvine, and UC Davis on an ecodriving workshop held in Berkeley, California in May 2011. 
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    TSRC is evaluating the performance data for a project with Wind+Wing Technologies of Napa, California to explore the concept of wind-assisted ferry boats for the San Francisco Bay Area. Ferry traffic is expected to increase over time and certain Bay Area ferry routes could benefit from wind-assist power to help reduce the use of diesel fuel. This project will evaluate the fuel use savings in an experimental 24-foot vessel operated on various routes in early 2014 with and without the use of the carbon fiber "wing". These results will then be analyzed for applicability across a full year of operation and also analyzed for fuel use and emission reduction impacts when scaled to potential larger (commercial-scale) ferry boats.
  • This Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project is a collaborative effort with TSRC that is headed by Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC) ( The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and involves developing laboratory hardware and curricula to introduce hydrogen and fuel-cell topics to thousands of engineering students in the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. During the first year of a three-year project, SERC has delivered fuel-cell / electrolyzer laboratory kits and a fuel-cell test station to TSRC and the HSU Environmental Resources Engineering Department. The project is also introducing curricular material in HSU and UC Berkeley engineering courses.
  • TSRC is working with Toyota to assess the infrastructure needs for fuel cell vehicles and to analyze and test hydrogen vehicles and refueling stations. Eight Toyota Highlander fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV-advs) have been delivered to TSRC for use in this project. Also associated with the project is the 700-bar fast-fill hydrogen station operated by TSRC in conjunction with Toyota and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, that has been in continuous operation since May 2011. Research topics include: 1) working with California state agencies to test "metrology" devices to accurately measure the amount of dispensed hydrogen at high pressure; 2) real-time information on the availability and status of the UC Berkeley hydrogen station using the California Fuel Cell Partnership Station Operating Status System (SOSS); 3) analysis of "smart" hydrogen refueling concepts aided by information technology to locate and assure hydrogen fuel availability; and 4) analysis of full fuel cycle energy efficiency associated with operating advanced high-pressure (10,000psi/70 MPa) hydrogen refueling systems.  This research is supported by Toyota and the Multi-Campus Research Programs and Initiatives program.  
  • NorthCAT Logo
    The Northern California Center for Alternative Transportation Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Technologies (NorthCAT) is a new resource available to Northern California. The project, initially funded by the California Energy Commission and partner match fund sources, creates a physical and virtual network of training and showcase centers and informational resources for alternative fuels and vehicle technologies. The NorthCAT mission is to provide informational resources and learning opportunities for fleet managers, city and local officials, first and second responders, electricians and tradespeople, and other interested groups. The center emphasizes advanced technology options with energy use and environmental benefits, including electricity, hydrogen, biofuels, and natural gas, and electric-drive, hybrid, and advanced combustion vehicles. The NorthCAT project is a partnership of several organizations focused on the implementation of clean transportation fuels. Primary partners include: · The Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California Berkeley ( · The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ( · Prospect Silicon Valley ( · BKi ( · Schatz Energy Research Center - Humboldt State University ( · The Center for Transportation and the Environment ( · CalCharge ( · The Bay Area Climate Collaborative ( · The Bay Area Air Quality Management District ( Visit to learn more about this effort.
  • PHEVs promise to link electricity and gasoline markets because they can use both grid-supplied electricity and liquid fuels. Through this project, TSRC is exploring the fuel choices of PHEV owners if they were to use current electricity tariffs and real-time electricity pricing. Additionally, we are investigating the grid impacts of charging large numbers of PHEVs. TSRC is also evaluating the economics of the vehicle purchase decision with respect to fuel prices and battery costs.   
  • This project is designed to help potential adopters of electric vehicles (EVs) track their daily driving patterns and gain—through an intuitive web interface—a customized understanding of the potential benefits of plug-ins and EVs for them. The project uses an in-vehicle GPS or an iPhone app to track vehicle location. The project is funded partly through the Multi-campus Research Program and Initiatives (MRPI) award that was received by the UC Institutes of Transportation Studies in 2009. The project is a semifinalist for the 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Clean Energy Prize.   


  • Researchers at TSRC and the University of California (UC), Irvine completed an ambitious multi-year (2007-2010) project to study user response and energy impacts of Toyota’s prototype plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHVs) and fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHVs). The California Clean Mobility Partnership (CCMP) is a partnership among UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Toyota, and the Bay Area and South Coast Air Quality Management Districts, in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission. During Phase I of the CCMP, researchers studied the behavioral responses to PHVs and the option to plug the vehicles into the utility grid to recharge batteries, technical energy use, environmental and economic assessments, air quality modeling and testing and certification. The project, with support from Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. also evaluated driver perceptions of the relative strengths and weaknesses of PHVs and FCHVs as well as conventional Prius hybrid vehicles. Williams, et al. 2011 RF1 report on the real-world use and energy and GHG emissions implications of the PHV placed in Northern California. For example, based on daily driving distances, 20 miles of charge-depleting range would have been fully utilized on 81% of days driven, whereas 40 miles would not have been fully utilized on over half of travel days. Additionally, the greenhouse gas emissions from driving and charging were estimated to be 2.6 metric tons, about half of the emissions expected from a 22.4-mpg vehicle (the MY2009 fleet-wide real-world average). 
  • The “California Clean Mobility Project” (CCMP) is a multi-year effort including multiple UC campuses, California agencies, and local air districts. Phase I of the CCMP included comparative research about driver perceptions and energy and environmental impacts between conventional Prius hybrid vehicles, Toyota prototype plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV), and Toyota prototype Highlander fuel-cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV).  During Phase II of the CCMP, TSRC researchers have deployed 10 conventional Prius hybrid vehicles and 10 Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicles (PHVs) in real-world driving situations in Northern California. Toyota Motor Sales is providing the vehicles for this study. The purpose of this phase of the research is to gain a stronger understanding of driver response to the PHVs in relation to conventional Prius hybrids, including response to a variety of charging scenarios. This information will be used to help inform associated technical, economic, and environmental assessments of PHVs and other advanced vehicles.
  • With support from the California Energy Commission, TSRC is studying strategies for overcoming barriers to the implementation of electric fuel for vehicles in California. The project is examining the current economics and performance of advanced batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, exploring various business models for how the first costs of vehicles could be lowered for consumers, and studying battery secondary use and recycling prospects. Building on a workshop with industry experts in fall 2008 (go to CEFIS workshop page), the project will result in a white paper for the energy commission (go to CAISO data page). Also see "Plug-In Electric Vehicle Battery Second Life".
  • This project explored early markets for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles based on placements of DaimlerChrysler "F-Cell" vehicles at UC Berkeley, Caltrans, and several other locations. TSRC examined the potential behavioral response to fuel cell vehicle technology and refueling infrastructure for public/private fleet, carsharing, and other early fuel cell vehicle market niches.
  • With funding from the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, TSRC is investigating the barriers and opportunities related to scaling up the use of electricity as a transportation fuel (e-fuel) in California. This project includes assessment of the emissions and human-health benefits of transitioning to e-fuel and the current regulatory and policy context as it relates to the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Activities include conducting power-grid and vehicle-population-growth analyses and holding a stakeholder workshop. The resulting report will provide input to and guidance for the further development of California state policies and regulations and other strategic activities that help foster the widespread and responsible commercialization of PEVs.
  • TSRC is working with UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) to examine the fuel-cycle environmental and health impacts of potential increases in the use of cellulosic biofuels based on fast-growing non-food crops such as miscanthus grass. Along with researchers from CEE, ERG, and the Berkeley Lab and analysts from EBI, TSRC researchers are examining the biofuel production process (i.e., the “biorefinery”) including energy balance and emissions and material input/output analysis. TSRC is also assisting in the analysis of other parts of the complete crop-to-vehicle fuel production and use cycle.
  • TSRC is working with the University of Michigan, Rochester Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and UC Davis on a project for the National Science Foundation under the "Materials Use: Science, Engineering, and Society" program to assess the potential shifts in production in the automotive industry in response to greenhouse gas emission policies. The project involves an integration of vehicle cost analysis (being led by TSRC), producer and consumer decision making, environmental policy analysis, and automotive materials usage assessments.
  • Under a project for the California Air Resources Board, TSRC is working with the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis to study the potential implementation of a vehicle “feebates” program in California. This type of program would involve a revenue-neutral incentive program, where purchasers of new vehicles with above average emissions of greenhouse gases would pay fees and those purchasing lower emitting vehicles would receive rebates. Various types of program designs are being examined by the UC team, along with potential consumer responses through TSRC-led statewide survey and focus group research. Automobile manufacturer, dealer, and consumer revenue and equity impacts are also being examined, along with interactions with other related vehicle and emissions policies.




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