Cost-Efficient Transition to Clean Energy Transportation Services

35 Pages Posted: 28 May 2021

See all articles by Stephen Comello

Stephen Comello

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Gunther Glenk

University of Mannheim

Stefan Reichelstein

Stanford University

Date Written: June 2020


Comprehensive global decarbonization will require that transportation services cease to rely on fossil fuels. Here we develop a generic life-cycle cost model to address two closely related questions central to the emergence of sustainable transportation: (i) the utilization rates (hours of operation) that rank-order alternative drivetrains in terms of their cost, and (ii) the cost-efficient share of clean energy drivetrains in a vehicle fleet of competing drivetrains. Calibrating our model framework in the context of urban transit buses, we examine how the comparison between diesel and battery-electric buses varies with the specifics of the duty cycle (route). We find that even for less favorable duty cycles, battery-electric buses will entail lower life-cycle costs once utilization rates exceed 20% of the annual hours. Yet, the current economics of that particular application still calls for a one-third share of diesel drivetrains in a cost-efficient fleet.

Keywords: clean energy vehicles, transportation services, life-cycle cost, fleet optimization

Suggested Citation

Comello, Stephen and Glenk, Gunther and Reichelstein, Stefan, Cost-Efficient Transition to Clean Energy Transportation Services (June 2020). TRR 266 Accounting for Transparency Working Paper Series No. 31, Available at SSRN: or

Stephen Comello

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, 94305
United States

Gunther Glenk (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim ( email )

Mannheim Institute for Sustainable Energy Studies
Mannheim, 68131

Stefan Reichelstein

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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