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Analysis of Light Alternative-Powered Vehicle Use and Potential in the United States

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark Archibald

Grove City College, Grove City, PA

Paper No. IMECE2011-64714, pp. 319-326; 8 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 9: Transportation Systems; Safety Engineering, Risk Analysis and Reliability Methods; Applied Stochastic Optimization, Uncertainty and Probability
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5495-2
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Potential benefits of light alternative-powered vehicles are analyzed along with technical, social, and political factors affecting their widespread adoption in the United States. Light alternative-powered vehicles (LAV) include human-powered vehicles such as bicycles and velomobiles, electric bicycles, light electric vehicles, hybrid human-electric, and similar vehicles. Currently bicycles comprise the vast majority of this class of vehicle. Widespread adoption of light alternative-powered vehicles can result in reduced transportation energy consumption, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, reduced urban noise, and reduced user costs. Annually, the average US driver could reduce gasoline consumption by 2000 liters, greenhouse gas emissions by 4 metric tonnes, and realize an annual savings of $5,000. In the United States the use of light alternative vehicles is quite low, due primarily to a combination of social, economic, and political factors, including transportation regulations. While dramatic increases in the use LAVs is not likely without changes in these factors, technological factors may significantly affect perception and use. Significant technical factors include improved batteries and control systems, reduced manufacturing cost, improved usability, and improved infrastructure. Scale is an important factor. Most of the technical factors are solvable with current or emerging technologies, but the demand for LAVs the United States does not justify the investment required. Light alternative-powered vehicles have the potential be a significant part of energy and GHG policy in the United States, but are limited more by political factors than by technology.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Vehicles



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