Gasoline Power To Dominate U.S. Highways Through 2040

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
gasoline power to dominate u s highways through 2040

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.

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  • Vulpine Vulpine on Dec 20, 2013

    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.

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    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Dec 21, 2013

      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.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 21, 2013

    "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: It's not an unreasonable forecast, barring some sort of technological breakthrough that nobody could possibly predict with any reasonable certainty.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Dec 21, 2013

    @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.

    • CelticPete CelticPete on Dec 21, 2013

      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..

  • Jimbob457 Jimbob457 on Dec 22, 2013

    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.