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Open Access Publications from the University of California

AVCEM: Advanced Vehicle Cost and Energy Use Model. Overview of AVCEM


AVCEM is an electric and gasoline vehicle energy-use and lifetime-cost model. AVCEM designs a motor vehicle to meet range and performance requirements specified by the modeler, and then calculates the initial retail cost and total private and social lifetime cost of the designed vehicle. It can be used to investigate the relationship between the lifetime cost – the total cost of vehicle ownership and operation over the life of the vehicle – and important parameters in the design and use of the vehicle.

There are three major parts to AVCEM and the AVCEM documentation:

* the model of vehicle cost and weight * the model of vehicle energy use * periodic ownership and operating costs.

The model of vehicle cost and weight consists of a model of manufacturing cost and weight, and a model of all of the other costs – division costs, corporate costs, and dealer costs – that compose the total retail cost. The manufacturing cost is the materials and labor cost of making the vehicle. In our analysis, material and labor cost is estimated for all of the nearly 40 subsystems that make up a complete vehicle. We also perform detailed analyses of the manufacturing cost of the key unique components of electric vehicles: batteries, fuel cells, fuel-storage systems, and electric drivetrains.

The model of vehicle energy use is a second-by-second simulation of all of the forces acting on a vehicle over a specified drive cycle. The purpose of this model is to accurately determine the amount of energy required to move a vehicle of particular characteristics over a specified drivecycle, with the ultimate objective of calculating the size of the battery or fuel-cell system necessary to satisfy the user-specified range and performance requirements. (The cost of the battery or fuel-cell system is directly related to its size; hence the importance of an accurate energy-use and performance analysis within a lifetime cost analysis.) The energy-use simulation is the standard textbook application of the physics of work, with a variety of empirical approximations, to the movement of motor vehicles.

Periodic ownership and operating costs, such as insurance, maintenance and repair, and energy, are in toto about the same magnitude as the amortized initial cost, and hence an important component of the total lifetime cost of ownership and use. Because of this, and because these costs can vary with the vehicle technology, it is helpful to estimate them accurately. We develop detailed estimates of the most important of these costs, which are maintenance and repair and insurance. Note that in the AVCEM documentation, periodic ownership and operating costs include external costs, such as the cost of air pollution, and financial parameters, such as interest rates. The AVCEM documentation also contains an appendix that details some aspects of our modeling of battery and drivetrain parameters.

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