By on December 20, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The green warriors who hoped EVs and hybrids would be the dominate force on the highways of America may need to wait a bit longer: the United States Department of Energy predicts gasoline will be the fuel of a generation until at least 2040.

In fact, the DOE’s Energy Information Administration states in a report issued earlier this week that 78 percent of all vehicles on the road in 2040 will still burn fossil fuels, though more efficiently; the EIA predicts an average of 37.2 mpg at that point in time. While 42 percent of all vehicles will use some form of advanced fuel-saving technology, plug-in hybrids and full EVs will each account for only 1 percent of sales.

As for the pump, the EIA believes a gallon of gas will rise to the equivalent of $3.90, with diesel tagged for $4.73. The agency also predicts 30 percent increase in miles traveled from 2012 through 2040, and overall fuel consumption in the nation’s transportation sector to fall by 4 percent.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

48 Comments on “Gasoline Power To Dominate U.S. Highways Through 2040...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    See? Everything is fine!

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    The C7 looks SO GOOD from that angle.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in 30 years, some reputable source releases a report stating that even after 150 years of geometrically-increasing petroleum usage around the world, with the drilling technology available then, that we’d only touched 2-3% of the recoverable supply.

    Petroleum extraction seems to have its own Moore’s Law – it seems that every decade or so, we have to revise our estimates of just how much oil and natural gas even EXIST, and the new technology always seems to triple or quadruple the estimate of recoverable quantities compared to the previous report.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there are ten million years of recoverable oil and gas in the earth right now, based on current consumption rates. Certainly enough to power the world lavishly until we come up with something better like fusion reactors.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      There’s been a lot of progress in synthesizing gasoline, so called green gasoline. So, if we are still using gasoline, I suspect it will be carbon neutral green gasoline rather than oil from the ground. Supply probably won’t be a problem even if almost every oil well suddenly dries up.

      http://www.utulsa.edu/academics/colleges/college-of-engineering-and-natural-sciences/departments-and-schools/department-of-chemical-engineering/research/renewable-fuels-from-algae-oil.aspx

      http://phys.org/news/2013-10-air-sun-ingredients-green-gasoline.html

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      Fracking, which in essence allows (for the first time in history) mining of the source rocks for natural gas and liquid petroleum, is said to have doubled their global resource base just since 2006. The experts assume current prices and technology. They also base their estimates on no further identification of as yet undiscovered source rocks.

      In the business of petroleum geology, there is almost zero incentive to be overly optimistic. People invest big money on the come, so geologists who are too optimistic do not get to stay in the business for long.

      My best guess is that the Saudis will drop the price of Arab light to $70 to $75 during 2014 in an effort to slow or stop expansion of US tight oil production. This might appear to work for a while. Trouble is that in a non-boom costs in the US oil patch come down considerably. Day rates for rigs become footage rates. Labor gets cheaper. Lease bonus payments return to normal. It goes on and on. Moving fracking methods to other places is also a consideration – Australia, Canada, California, China, Poland to name only a few.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I read in early 2012 (I think in “Foreign Policy”) the Saudis needed $70/bbl permanently in order to break even on the 130 billion dollar aid package/bribe to its less fortunate (and Shiites living near the oil fields) so I doubt they will attempt to lower the oil price. This article isn’t the one I read then but its actually a good read. I’ve pasted the section which claims for this fiscal year they need $98/bbl. Oil may come down due to lesser demand or because fracking is putting too much on the global market, but I’m just speculating.

        “The Effect of Arab Spring

        The autocracies of the region, scared by the Arab Spring, have locked themselves into a dependence on historically high prices just to achieve what economists call “fiscal break-even”, the oil price they need to be able to cover their budgets. Saudi Arabia famously threw $130bn at public services in 2011 to forestall unrest, and this year has a fiscal break-even of $98 per barrel, compared to just $74 three years ago. Previous efforts at developing the private sector have been quietly abandoned and the latest attempt at a social contract has involved hiring large numbers of young Saudis into civil service jobs of questionable value.”

        http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/price-oil-it-bad-news-for-middl-201392212413588668.html

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Sounds reasonable the way you explain it. Maybe this oil boom will last forever? It would, however, mark the first time. Funny thing about mining industries, they tend to be kind of up and down.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree much like the mining industry I see oil in a boom/bust cycle. However unlike mining and unlike any other time in modern history, oil producing nations (inc OPEC) are dependent more on oil to run their economies and keep their budgets fed. A sharp or prolonged drop in the price of oil (i.e. 1997 ASEAN crisis) could have severe geopolitical ramifications on the oil producing dictatorships, theocracies, and banana republics of the world. Personally I think oil should be trading in the $70-80 dollar range but after reading the article I posted I now understand why is hasn’t dipped below $100/bbl for any length of time (esp Brent).

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Asian_financial_crisis

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing work to get methane out of shale, but we don’t currently have the corresponding technology to get oil out of oil shale. Instead we are able to get at part of the oil and natural gas liquids around shale formations. We could have a completely new energy revolution that gains access to oil source rocks. Could also have new technology to convert cheap coal into liquid fuel.

        I don’t think the Saudis have the production capability to drive oil prices down like they did 25 years ago. They are investing in offshore oil to add production capacity, but production from their older oil fields is declining. They’re not the oil export powerhouse they used to be.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Have you been to Snyder, Texas lately?

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> Have you been to Snyder, Texas lately?

            I own land and have a very profitable business about 135 miles due west of Snyder, TX.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            Last time I spent the night in Snyder was 2007. Oil was $60. Fracking (esp. for oil) was unknown. My apartment in Hobbs rented for $400. Now I hear my old Hobbs apartment rents for $1500.

            My memories of the Wolfcamp shale go way back. I can still remember family stories about Scurry County and recovering oil from tight sands from circa 1950.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        While CNG and other natural gas based fuels might not “dominate” US transportation, I would be fairly shocked if they aren’t used in some form. I’ve heard that some long haul trucking firms running the numbers and taking bids to see how much it would cost to switch vs. the savings once they had done so.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Of course gasoline will dominate – it has more energy density than just about anything else.

    It’s hard to believe EVs will only be 1% of sales in 27 years, because today they’re already about 0.5%.

    And the price of gasoline? The $3.90 number doesn’t make sense, even though the article says ‘adjusted for inflation’. $3.90 in 2013 was $1.83 27 years ago. Using the same math, I’d expect today’s $3.50 gas to rise to $7.45. So maybe they’re actually predicting the price of gas will drop? That wouldn’t surprise me, since we’ll never run out of oil.

    But generally speaking, any predictions like this (27 years hence) are worthless.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Same concerns here: 1% EV number, $3.90 price of gas in 2040 dollars?? It makes me question the 2040 time frame as well.

      I went to the Detroit News article, but that article did not cite any references or links. A quick google of DOE and they are in the early release stages of their document and the full release won’t be ready till Spring 2014.

      I can forgive TTAC for being incomplete, but Detroit News is a… um…news outlet?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> Of course gasoline will dominate – it has more energy density than just about anything else.

      Actually, metal-air batteries theoretically could have the same density. It’s just there are numerous problems to solve before they’re commercially viable. But, given another quarter century to solve them, I think we’ll have them by 2040.

      I think we should keep an eye on the world of particle physics. Something unexpected could very well come out of that research and current speculation will look as ridiculous as the prediction by the chairman of Baldwin Locomotive that steam locomotives would dominate until 1980.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        That would be nice, but the common refrain on batteries is that there’s a wonderful breakthrough pending in the next few years.

      • 0 avatar

        I thought I was the only one who would think of the Baldwin Locomotive Works claim of steam dominance when reading this headline. The last American Class I railroad to fully dieselize was the coal-hauling Norfolk & Western (one parent of today’s Norfolk Southern) when they dropped their last fire in May, 1960.

        They designed and built almost 400 of their own steam locomotives in house and were darn good at it, too. They built their last one (a little 0-6-0 switcher) in 1953 and were building high-speed steam passenger locomotives as late as 1950. That’s pretty astonishing given that some railroad were buying passenger diesel locomotives as early as 1937 and some smaller RRs had fully dieselized by 1949/1950. Rumor has it that N&W management wanted to keep steam alive well into the 1970s, some believed to prove their loyalty to the mines they served. But the reality was that the N&W was an island of steam in a rising sea of diesels and as the parts suppliers for steam locomotives went out of business, N&W was forced to give up their beloved coal-burners.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Getting on the diesel train (haw haw) late was also one of the things that ultimately killed the Pennsylvania Railroad, which also frequently bought from Baldwin. PRR didn’t shelve their steam locomotives until 1957, and while ambitious, their prototype steam locomotives of the mid to late 1940s were failures.

          It’s too bad the PRR S1 got scrapped back in 1949…such a beautiful piece of machinery. Someone should build a replica for the Strasburg museum.

          • 0 avatar

            I have a beautiful sketch of one of their T1 passenger locomotives (the simplified “production version” of the S1) hung on my bedroom wall and in fact, just got it back from the framer yesterday. If there ever were a totally misunderstood machine, the PRR T1 would take first place. It’s such a shame none are around today to defend the honor of the name because in my humble opinion, they were probably the most beautiful steamer ever made and they represented the pinnacle of steam development let down by untrained engineers and out-of-touch upper management. People don’t remember how they were powerful, comfortable to ride, easy on coal and water consumption or how they could easily run 120-130 MPH all day long. All railfans today know about the T1 was that they sooted like mad and had “uncontrollable” wheel spin, a trait caused by failing to train engineers transferring to the T1 from the smaller K4 Pacifics. I liken it to taking someone out of a 1977 Toyota Corolla that they’ve owned since new and dropping them into a Corvette C7 Stingray. You’d get similar results.

            Sorry for the locomotive ‘derailment’ ;-) of your topic. Please resume your automobile discussions.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      While I agree that gasoline will still be dominate for many years to come I don’t buy the pure EVs will only account for 1% of the market by 2040.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Diesel has higher energy density than gasoline.

      I think that petroleum liquid fuel will dominate in 2040, but their estimates are probably too conservative. I could see hybrids being a higher proportion of the mix if battery cost declined even moderately. Independent of being “green”, electric motors provide nice torque from a dead stop allowing a well designed gas/electric hybrid to provide the “premium” feel of a larger displacement engine. Hybrids are also well suited to highly congested stop and go traffic and I don’t see traffic congestion getting better by 2040.

      The other big unknown is advances in fuel cells. No way do I see a hydrogen economy, but it’s possible some fuel like methanol is more suitable for fuel cells than gasoline. I could see fuel cell electric cars taking over if they became better and cheaper to operate than the internal combustion engine. 27 years is a long time for new technology to be developed.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      “But generally speaking, any predictions like this (27 years hence) are worthless.”

      +1 former gslippy

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      It’s adjusted for inflation backwards or in 2040 it will cost 3.90 in 2013 dollars. That would put it around 9 dollars in 2040 unadjusted. As for 1% being EV? That’s really low, I would see more like 5-7% as realistic to perhaps a bit generous.

  • avatar
    Garak

    At least they’re conservative in their estimates. Perhaps even too conservative, I’d think hybrids will overrun the appliance-car market by 2040. Also, micro-hybrids only 42%? Most likely start-stop systems will be made mandatory in new cars all over the world by 2025.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They did call them “plug-in” hybrids and EVs. What’s our grid and electricity generation going to look like in 2040? The cheapest fuel -coal- has been demonized, the grid is near capacity and in need of an expensive, major overhaul with off-peak hours used for much needed maintenance, and certain groups are trying to “conserve” energy by raising the price of electricity as well as oil and gas.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The important thing here, is how much additional performance improvements continue to be obtained from an over-100 year old technology, the 4-stroke gasoline powered ICE.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      schmitt trigger – –

      Well, apparently the end is not yet in sight. If you asked that question 15 years ago, we would then have yet to come up with commercially viable, variable-valve technology; advanced twin turbo-charging; and direct injection in gasoline engines with high compression ratios. And guess what? They all exist now.

      Who knows what is yet possible:
      1) stratified multiple injection?
      2) multiple spark-plug ignition, with lasers?
      3) Ultrasonic atomization of fuel droplets in an excess oxygen environment;
      4) swirl-shaped combustion geometries on the top of pistons…

      It goes on an on. And, of course, there is still the large-scale commercialization of the successful “Audi-Process” to make “green” methane (“e-gas”) from seawater. And methane can be burned directly, or reacted to form any hydrocarbon length you want, including C8H18, octane, which we call “gasoline”.

      The fact is that, for overall convenience at ALL temperatures, low cost, simplicity, — and for high energy densities, — burning hydrocarbon fuels is still tough to beat, and will remain so for at least a century or more.

      —————-

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Actually Ford’s PROCO engine they worked on in the 70’s had direct injection that produced a stratified charge that was production viable even w/o electronic engine controls. It was only the cost of implementing it at the time that held it back. So yes you are correct that it wasn’t commercially viable when developed and it didn’t become commercially viable until MPG and Emissions concerns allowed them to justify the additional cost.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Just which of these do anything about dealing with the fact that people rarely drive anywhere near the BSHP islands? The prius has owned the high mileage appliance crown for quite some time by avoiding tech like above and mostly operating in the BSHP islands (using electric when you need more power and using a tiny engine so the BSHP islands are way down where prius drivers drive [presumably too low]) and possibly some funky Atkinson tricks.

        Getting higher efficiency at peak power is trivial. Getting it when driving in traffic is the real issue. Maybe some of these will help while idling along in super-duper-overdrive, but we’ll see.

        • 0 avatar
          Drewlssix

          Buy tiny under powered compacts from 30 or more years ago. You can be in the some 90 percent of the time. IMO the problem is the way we drive and the cars we drive because of that. We are rev-phobic.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Once again, the government predictors are terribly, terribly wrong. WRONG!

    Assuming they are adjusting for inflation, gas will still cost more. What they are failing to account for, ironically, is government adding additional costs to the gallon. Inflation adjusted I would add a dollar to that.

    Also, at some point in the next quarter century we will get, albeit for a short time, a government that will let us have a new, lighter class of car. Those cars, let’s call them Light Personal Autos, will have a much higher percentage of alternate power sources. Also, NG will be bigger. My guess is that half of cars will be gasoline, but that the gasoline cars will be driving most of the miles by far because there will be more highway miles by them.

    My SWAG is now on the net for perpetuity, DOE. Game on!

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      I suspect that this report was basically written in stone 10 years ago. Most likely the DoE has turf set out for certain fuel uses, and they are going to predict in such a way that fits the DoE.

      Maybe they should stick to predicting nuclear power. There the costs are almost entirely driven by regulation, so should be predictable to those who control the regulation.

  • avatar

    Two things:

    1) The linked article doesn’t mention anything about self-driving cars. What will be the impact of self-driving/automatic cars on fuel usage? I would imagine more people driving further (ie disabled/elderly taking trips to see family/tourism). I would guess this would more than offset any decrease in driving due to increased urbanization and centralization of city planning.

    2) The linked article also doesn’t mention comparative energy costs. Currently electricity at home is for most Americans between $0.12 to $0.17 per kW. Charging up an electric car that gets 100 miles of range costs a few bucks at most, compared to several times that for gasoline for similar range. If electricity costs the same, battery capacity continues to increase, and battery prices drop, it’s hard to imagine that in 27 years only 1% of the auto fleet will be electric when people are right now clamoring for these cars and planning charging infrastructure already.

    Looks like the report referenced in the article is here: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/index.cfm

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    And our Government is still spending $7.5 Billion on Electric Vehicles:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/09/21/cbo-government-will-spend-7-5-billion-on-electric-vehicles-what-are-we-getting-back/

    Left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing :

    (and I’m looking at both political parties)

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      “And our Government is still spending $7.5 Billion on Electric Vehicles:”

      That’s nothing compared to the money we are wasting on ethanol.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Well, companies spend a similar fraction on research with no direct commercial applications. The problem is is that people think $7.5 billion of their tax money is obscene, but compared to the $3.45 TRILLION budget, it’s pocket change. Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was the first to say, “A billion, here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” He said that in 1962, when the Federal budget was $95-$98 billion ($750-$800 billion in 2013 dollars, without Social Security and other off-budget spending).

  • avatar
    redav

    “Gasoline Power To Dominate U.S. Highways Through 2040″

    In other news, water is wet. Film at eleven.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yup! Not news to me either. That’s what I believe and have been saying all along. Most importantly, I am living my life based on that premise of gasoline being abundantly available.

      If those ‘early adopters’ want to spend their money on EVs, PEVs and Hybrids, let them head on. How popular would they be if the taxpayers didn’t subsidize them?

  • avatar
    kkt

    Man, I wish I was driving down Highway 1 in an open-top car, instead of looking forward to walking through the slush that remains of this morning’s snow, in the dark, to catch my bus.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You need to take a more positive attitude: be thankful it’s the end of the week, and you won’t have to walk through the slush after the overnight temps turn it into ice. Or, you can keep thinking of that open top car ride while you plan doing what I did 40 years ago, move to the sun belt. Just leave your snow belt cultural attitudes behind, please.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    There are those here who won’t want to hear my opinion, but here it is anyway.

    Personally, I think the USDofE is wrong; I think we’ll be seeing as much as 50% electric within 2 years of 2030, if not even sooner. There are caveats, however. This does assume EV technology continues to improve while gasoline technology reaches a plateau. Gasoline itself is nearing its peak of economy vs power as we continue to have engines drop in size and weight while still trying to perform the same tasks much larger engines have managed for so long. We’re going to reach a point very soon where gasoline engines will only serve as generators of EREVs because they can no longer produce the torque needed to accelerate a near-two-ton vehicle at the rate to which we’ve become accustomed. Heavier loads will continue to rely on diesel, but even there we’ll reach the point where electric motors simply supply more torque than a reciprocating engine can deliver.

    Meanwhile, battery technologies will continue to improve. Already, in less than ten years, we’ve taken EV technology from achieving a mere seven- to ten-mile range to nearly 300 at highway speeds and at least one of those electrics has proven that performance does not need to be sacrificed to get that range.

    What we’re going to see first is a stronger move towards EREVs where the gasoline or diesel engine generates the electricity for charging the battery and probably providing very little direct power to the ground. But by 2030 charging capabilities and battery endurance will exceed the range offered by those EREVs, on battery alone. When that time comes, gasoline and diesel will be relegated to those remotest of outposts and routes that simply don’t have electric power of any kind available.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Vulpine, don’t sell yourself short. Like me, there are many people who are actually interested in your opinion as well as the opinion of others.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      One thing you are missing (I think) is the slow turnover of US cars. Cars seem to be driven until totaled, unless something like the “crush some cars for a stimulus” happens again. This means that the cars in 2030 will largely have not been built yet, but expect a significant amount to be built before 2020.

      But hybrids and electrics make too much sense to be ignored.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The electrical grid can’t handle that many plug-ins. It’s like that TV show “Surfside 6″ from 1960-62, set on a houseboat in Miami Beach. After that show, the houseboat manufacturer sold over a half-million houseboats to people who wanted to live on the water in marinas, paying a pittance in mooring fees. The number of spaces available disappeared and the mooring fees skyrocketed to levels above renting an apartment. Then the houseboat market crashed. The same thing will happen with a move to plug-ins.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “the DOE’s Energy Information Administration states in a report issued earlier this week that 78 percent of all vehicles on the road in 2040 will still burn fossil fuels”

    It predicted that 78% would be ***gasoline*** powered vehicles. And its definition of gasoline-powered vehicles excludes full hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E85 ethanol blends.

    Not exactly a fun read, but there you go: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er%282014%29.pdf It’s not an unreasonable forecast, barring some sort of technological breakthrough that nobody could possibly predict with any reasonable certainty.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Vulpine–I agree you will see more gasoline and diesel engines used to recharge batteries for hybrids. To meet the upcoming mpg standards the manufacturers will have more hybrid power trains available. I do see the plug ins being part of these hybrids.

    Also I think that there will be many older vehicles still being driven by 2040 because vehicles last longer and are kept much longer, especially trucks. I do not think fuel prices will stay the same regardless of increases of supply. World demand for energy will continue to increase in the developing countries and it can be more profitable to sell less volume at a higher price but not so high of a price to where volume sharply declines.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      Electric is just an energy form for cars. What matters is how the electric energy is generated. I think Fusion power will be working by then – and we will see hydrogen fuel cell cars.

      But call me optimistic. I think batteries are a dead end technology. Though I suppose you could call fuel cells a kind of battery..

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    My favorite memory of the Department of Energy comes from November of 1980. I was in their newly built DC library researching something or another the morning after Ronald Reagan’s election. About 10 AM their overfed lawyers started to show up. The shock on their faces was evident. Their obvious mission was a job hunt.

    No offence meant to other parts of the Department. My dad once worked for the Petroleum Administration for War in the early 1940’s. My point is that trying to run the oil business out of Washington makes as little sense as trying to run the auto business out of Washington. Politicians and their ilk have an important place in almost every industry, but picking winners and losers is best left to the marketplace.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States