US: Energy Department foresees gas car dominance through 2040 image

The Energy Department, in a new report, is predicting gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to dominate the market through 2040. DOE also predicts a big rise in the fuel economy of the nation’s cars and trucks.

It predicts the fuel efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks will rise from 21.5 mpg (10.9 L/100 km) in 2012 to 37.2 mpg (6.3 L/100 km) by 2040. Also, overall energy consumption by the nation’s transportation sector is expected to fall by about 4 %.

The agency predicts that in 2040, 78 % of all cars and trucks will run on gasoline, down from 82 % last year. It predicts a big upswing in micro-hybrids and other advanced fuel technologies to 42 % of all vehicles by 2040. The Energy Information Agency predicts full hybrids will account for 5 % of vehicles in 2040 — up from 3 % today. Diesel vehicles will double to 4 % from the current 2 %.

In 2012, the Obama administration issued final rules to double the efficiency of new cars and trucks to 54.5 mpg (4.3 L/100 km) by 2025 — though in real-world driving and after accounting for credits it will be around 40 miles per gallon (5.9 L/100 km). The Environmental Protection Agency said this month that the fuel efficiency of the nation’s 2012 model-year cars and trucks hit a record average of 23.6 miles per gallon (9.96 L/100 km) and is on pace for 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km) for the 2013 model year.

EIA is now predicting a 30 % increase in vehicle miles traveled from 2012 through 2040, compared with a 41 % increase it had predicted over that time frame last year.

The agency also predicts that when adjusted for inflation, the price of gasoline will rise to $3.90 by 2040, compared to a prior forecast of $4.40; it estimates diesel fuel will rise to $4.73 by 2040, down from $5.03 in its previous forecast.