The necessity for environmentally conscious vehicle designs in conjunction with increasing concerns regarding U.S. dependency on foreign oil and climate change have induced significant investment towards enhancing the propulsion portfolio with new technologies. More recently, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have held great intuitive appeal and have attracted considerable attention. PHEVs have the potential to reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the commercial transportation sector. They are especially appealing in situations where daily commuting is within a small amount of miles with excessive stop-and-go driving. The research effort outlined in this paper aims to investigate the implications of motor/generator and battery size on fuel economy and GHG emissions in a medium-duty PHEV. An optimization framework is developed and applied to two different parallel powertrain configurations, e.g., pre-transmission and post-transmission, to derive the optimal design with respect to motor/generator and battery size. A comparison between the conventional and PHEV configurations with equivalent size and performance under the same driving conditions is conducted thus allowing an assessment of the fuel economy and GHG emissions potential improvement. The post-transmission parallel configuration yields higher fuel economy and less GHG emissions compared to pre-transmission configuration partly attributable to the enhanced regenerative braking efficiency.

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