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US could cut fuel use by 50% by 2035?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Well, that's apparently what a new report for MIT is saying!

 

Check it out (summary from Andrew Williams at Gas2.org):

 

A new report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Energy Initiative predicts that a 30-50% reduction in fuel consumption is possible in the US over the next 25-30 years. Initially, this will be achieved through improved gasoline and diesel engines and transmissions, gasoline hybrids and reductions in vehicle weight and drag. In the longer term, the study concludes that plug-in hybrids and, later, hydrogen fuel cells may begin to have a significant impact on fuel use and emissions.


The report, ‘On the Road in 2035: Reducing Transportation’s Petroleum Consumption and GHG Emissions,’ summarizes the results of an MIT research project that assessed the technology of vehicles and fuels that could be developed and commercialized during the next 25 years.


The research team assessed the effect of new vehicle and fuel technologies on the performance, cost and lifecycle emissions of individual vehicles. It then assessed the effects on the total on-the-road fleet of introducing these technologies using “plausible assumptions about how rapidly they could be developed, manufactured and sold to buyers to replace existing vehicles and fuels or to add to the existing fleet.”

Other key findings include:

  • Alternative fuels simpy seeking to replace petroleum are unlikely to lead to a significant change in GHG emissions. In fact, major near-term alternatives like the Candian oil-sands and coal will actually increase emissions;
  • Although some biofuels may prove beneficial, the U.S. emphasis on corn-based ethanol is “not obviously justifiable,” since it has “high economic costs, questionable GHG advantages, and other unfavorable environmental impacts.”
  • No single alternative fuel or technological development is likely to solve the problems of increased GHG emissions. Instead, progress must come from from a “comprehensive, coordinated effort to develop and market more efficient vehicles and benign fuels, and to find more sustainable ways to satisfy transportation demands.”
post #2 of 5

Yeah if anything I think that estimate is too conservative.  Currently US cars average 22 mpg.  Within the next decade, I suspect that virtually every new car will at least be a gas/electric hybrid, and most will be plug-in hybrids or fully electric cars.  There will probably also be more biodiesels available.  And that's just within the next decade.  Of course it takes quite a while to replace all the gas cars currently on the road, but they'll essentially all be gone within 25 years, and if most new cars in the next decade are hybrids, plug-ins, electric, etc., that will be the types of cars on the road in 2035.

 

25 years from now I would expect the US to cut gasoline use by more like 80%, if not more.  My guess it that most new cars purchased in 2035 will be fully electric (or use biofuels), using no gas whatsoever.


Edited by dana1981 - Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:47:36 UTC
post #3 of 5

 This would all be AMAZING!  I was struck by a point that was made during a speech at last night's DNC...that if Americans had been urged to cut fuel consumption and move toward alternative energies as something they could do in response to 9/11 (in terms of reducing our dependence on foreign oil), we would already be in much better shape.  Regardless, hope this trend does come to fruition!

post #4 of 5

Something to take into consideration; say we replace 30% of the cars on the road with electric vehicles. 30% of the demand for gasoline is now gone, gas prices will plummet and gas will become very cheap again. A lot of the incentive for people to continue to switch to electric vehicles will disappear.

 

And I don't think there won't be any gas vehicles to be had. Most people are reluctant to change and some will never change. I think that means there will still be a market (albeit a smaller market for sure) for gas burning vehicles for the next 50-60 years...

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattress:

Something to take into consideration; say we replace 30% of the cars on the road with electric vehicles. 30% of the demand for gasoline is now gone, gas prices will plummet and gas will become very cheap again. A lot of the incentive for people to continue to switch to electric vehicles will disappear.

 


 

Except that there will continue to be increasing demand from other countries (i.e. China and India), unless they also switch to electrics.  Over the past few months US gas demand has decreased but worldwide consumption has continued to increase.

 

Plus we'll probably have a carbon cap and trade system before too long which should result in higher gas prices.  Additionally, once fewer people are using gas cars, there will be less resistance to a gas tax (similar to how hardly anybody cares about cigarette taxes now).

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