Heavy-Duty Vehicle Activity Updates for MOVES Using NREL Fleet DNA and CE-CERT Data

Chen Zhang, Karen Ficenec, Andrew Kotz, Kenneth Kelly, Darrell Sonntag, Carl Fulper, Jessica Brakora, Tiffany Mo, Sudheer Ballare

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) is a publicly available tool used by researchers and policymakers to help understand motor vehicle emission sources at a national, county, and project level. Estimates of heavy-duty activity in the most recent version of the model at the time this work was conducted, MOVES2014, was identified as an area in need of improvement. The start activity in MOVES2014 is based on a limited and dated data set. In addition, MOVES2014 relies on drive cycles that represent on-network activity but do not account for idling activity that occurs on off-network roads, such as at a distribution center, while the truck is queuing or during loading and unloading. As a result, MOVES2014 may currently underestimate the number of starts and idle and soak time for heavy-duty trucks in real-world operation. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has previously leveraged its expansive Fleet DNA database of heavy-duty vehicles to idle and start activity for six of the nine heavy-duty vehicle source types of classes in the MOVES model. The data available in Fleet DNA from 416 conventional, diesel-powered vehicles provided activity estimates from more than 120,000 hours of operation throughout 14,682 vehicle days between October 2006 and January 2016. NREL calculated start fraction, starts per day, soak fraction, and idle fraction by hour of the day for each vehicle type, state, and vocation, and provided results in .CSV files that can be translated to MOVES table inputs. The idle and start activity from this initial analysis of Fleet DNA data was used to develop default idle and start data for heavy-duty vehicles in MOVES3. Satisfied with the results from the Fleet DNA data used for MOVES3, the EPA asked NREL to extend this start/soak/idle analysis using additional data from a larger number of vehicles for a potential future update to the MOVES model. Such a data set was achieved from a project led by the University of California at Riverside, College of Engineering, Center for Environmental Research & Technology (CE-CERT) and funded by California Air Resources Board. Specifically, this data set consists of 90 heavy-duty vehicles operated mainly in California, which can be separated into five of the nine heavy-duty vehicle classes in the MOVES model. In addition, the heavy-duty activity database collected by CE-CERT provided activity estimates from more than 44,000 hours of operation throughout 4,724 vehicle days between November 2014 and September 2016. This report details the analysis of the heavy-duty activity database collected from the University of California at Riverside by providing graphical analysis and context for the start, soak, and idle distributions. The comparison of the related results from both the Fleet DNA and CE-CERT data sets are documented as well.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages178
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-79509


  • fleet DNA
  • heavy duty
  • on-road data
  • vehicle activity


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