A Framework for Characterizing the Ambient Conditions Experienced by Light Duty Vehicles in the United States

Matthew Moniot, Jason Lustbader, Eric Wood, Byungho Lee, Justin Fink, Scott Agnew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


The relationship between ambient conditions and light-duty vehicle energy consumption has been widely researched. Relatively little effort, however, has been dedicated to understanding representative ambient conditions a light-duty vehicle may experience. The framework introduced in this article provides a means of quantifying ambient conditions specific to light-duty vehicle operation by incorporating both when and where vehicles are driven. The analysis presented expands the literature beyond solely focusing on temperature; distributions for humidity, solar irradiance, and air density are also included. A procedure is presented that calculates the ambient condition distributions for each metric by relating open-source data sets describing representative vehicle utilization and representative ambient conditions. While this study explores ambient conditions related to light-duty vehicle utilization, the framework may also be applied to separate vocations. Finally, the article concludes with an example use case of the ambient condition weighting process. A binning methodology is introduced that facilitates insight into vehicle energy consumption in response to ambient conditions at the national and local levels while minimizing the number of tests or simulations required.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)137-151
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-74593


  • Air density
  • ambient conditions
  • energy consumption
  • fuel economy
  • humidity
  • light-duty vehicle
  • real-world
  • representative
  • solar irradiation
  • temperature


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