Management of a shared, autonomous, electric vehicle fleet : vehicle choice, charging infrastructure & pricing strategies



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There are natural synergies between shared autonomous vehicle (AV) fleets and electric vehicle (EV) technology, since fleets of AVs resolve the practical limitations of today's non-autonomous EVs, including traveler range anxiety, access to charging infrastructure, and charging time management. Fleet-managed AVs relieve such concerns, managing range and charging activities based on real-time trip demand and established charging-station locations, as demonstrated in this paper. This work explores the management of a fleet of shared autonomous (battery-only) electric vehicles (SAEVs) in a regional (100-mile by 100-mile) discrete-time, agent-based model. The dissertation examines the operation of SAEVs under various vehicle range and charging infrastructure scenarios in a gridded city modeled roughly after the densities of Austin, Texas. Results indicate that fleet size is sensitive to battery recharge time and vehicle range, with each 80-mile range SAEV replacing 3.7 privately owned vehicles and each 200-mile range SAEV replacing 5.5 privately owned vehicles, under Level II (240-volt AC) charging. With Level III 480-volt DC fast-charging infrastructure in place, these ratios rise to 5.4 vehicles for the 80-mile range SAEV and 6.8 vehicles for the 200-mile range SAEV. However, due to the need to travel while "empty" for charging and passenger pickup, SAEV fleets are predicted to generate an additional 7.1 to 14.0% of travel miles. Financial analysis suggests that the combined cost of charging infrastructure, vehicle capital and maintenance, electricity, insurance, and registration for a fleet of SAEVs ranges from $0.42 to $0.49 per occupied mile traveled, which implies SAEV service can be offered at the equivalent per-mile cost of private vehicle ownership for low-mileage households, and thus be competitive with current manually-driven carsharing services and significantly less expensive than on-demand driver-operated transportation services. The mode share of SAEVs in the simulated mid-sized city is predicted to be between 14 and 39%, when competing against privately-owned, manually-driven vehicles and city bus service. This assumes SAEVs are priced between $0.75 and $1.00 per mile, which delivers significant net revenues to the fleet owner-operator, under all modeled scenarios, assuming 80-mile-range EVs and remote/cordless Level II charging infrastructure and $10,000-per-vehicle automation costs.