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Global Fuel Economy Initiative Releases Roadmap Report on Achieving 50% Fuel Economy Improvement in LDV Fleet by 2050

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI)—a collaboration between the FIA Foundation, International Energy Agency, International Transport Forum and United Nations Environment Programme (earlier post)—released a report describing a roadmap and initial action plan to achieve a 50% improvement in fuel economy in the global light duty vehicle fleet by 2050.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that fuel consumption and emissions of CO2 from the world’s cars will roughly double between 2000 and 2050. The IEA and ITF have developed a range of projections of possible “business-as-usual” scenarios around this, indicating the potential for a doubling (or more) of vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) combined with modest improvements in vehicle fuel economy. These take into account an improvement in the fuel efficiency of new cars based on existing fuel economy regulations, mainly in OECD countries, with improvements slowing in most regions after 2015.

Worldwide, cars currently account for close to half of the transport sector’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Their share will fall to just under 40% by 2050, with aviation set to grow to match road freight at around 22% of fuel consumption and emissions each.

GFEI expects that the technologies required to improve the efficiency of new cars 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2030, and the efficiency of the global car fleet 50% by 2050, mainly involve incremental change to conventional internal combustion engines and drive systems, along with weight reduction and better aerodynamics. Main additional measures would be full hybridization of a much wider range of vehicles (possibly including, but not requiring, plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies).

Click to enlarge.

In the United States, fuel consumption is considerably higher than the OECD average: doubling of tested fuel economy would mean moving from the current new car (and light truck) average of 26 mpg to 52 mpg (about 9 to 4.5 litres per 100 km). In non-OECD countries, more work is needed to better understand current fuel economy levels and their likely future trends, but a level of 4 litres per 100 km [59 mpg US] (or even lower) should be attainable

The GFEI report notes that while achieving the targeted reduction in fuel consumption should have “relatively small” costs, it notes that consumers are unlikely to demand a 50% improvement in fuel economy without government intervention and pro-active industry action. Reasons for this consumer reluctance adduced by the report include:

  • Many technologies that can improve fuel economy can instead be used to increase the power of vehicles, a traditionally strong selling point for cars.

  • Given consumer aversion to risk, and the presence of risks such as fluctuating fuel prices, manufacturers will not invest in new technology unless they are sure of selling cars equipped with it.

  • Consumers need additional information when new vehicle technologies are introduced to ensure that they work properly, provide performance similar to standard technologies, and provide the cost efficiency claimed.

The report cites a number of policy options to support achieving the goal, including:

  • Fuel economy or CO2 emission standards.
  • Vehicle taxes and incentives.
  • Component standards, taxes and incentives.
  • Fuel taxes.
  • A world standard “eco-test” as an additional and complementary standard test to provide drivers with fuel consumption information.
  • Labelling.
  • Policy alignment.

The GFEI outlined an action plan to help achieve the 50:50 target and interim targets (such as a 30% improvement in new cars, worldwide, by 2020), , including the following steps over the next five years:

  • Data and Modelling. Better data and information would greatly improve understanding of the current state of fuel economy in various countries and regions around the world, the potential to improve fuel economy, and at what cost. The GFEI will work in this area, leveraging the International Energy Agency’s Mobility Model and data system, and on-going analysis efforts by both the International Transport Forum and the UNEP-led Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles.

  • Policy Development. The global initiative will support the development and strengthening of fuel economy policies by governments worldwide. An initial step will be to better understand the relevant policy development processes and frameworks, and report on the current status of fuel economy policies in key countries.

    Based on that effort, the GFEI plans to develop a fuel efficiency policy “Tool Kit” which will provide information to governments and their partners on possible policies and action to improve national fuel efficiency.

    To facilitate this policy dialogue, GFEI is planning to organize events at the global, regional and national level to promote fuel efficiency policy initiatives in general and the GFEI targets in particular.

  • Engagement of Stakeholders. GFEI plans to engage governments, the fuels and vehicles industries, civil society and international organizations to better understand various views on and to work toward improved fuel economy.

  • Information Dissemination, Education and Communication. The engagement activities mentioned above will be accompanied by global and regional awareness campaigns to provide consumers and decision makers with information on options.



Will S

A 50% improvement is such a low target as to be laughable.

"...doubling of tested fuel economy would mean moving from the current new car (and light truck) average of 26 mpg to 52 mpg."

The 2010 5 seater Prius already achieves 50 mpg. Other vehicles like the Aptera, Loremo, etc easily achieve over 100 mpg.

This effort is a complete waste of time and resources, not uncommon with the IEA.


I agree Will. It is a spectacularly unambitious target, completely out of step with the current understanding of climate change and future oil supplies.

*slow hand claps all round*


Why would someone even bother to say something so un-ambitious? Hell, that's not even a very ambitious goal for 2020.


Declining production of oil will improve economy much more than that, or slash VMT to compensate.  Agreed that the IEA's "vision" is risible.


The US hasn't much to show for fuel efficiency in the years 1987 - 2007, and it is the richest economy in the world.
it is one thing for the developed world to increase fuel efficiency, where they can spend money on it, it is another for the developing nations.
On the other hand, all they have to do is to see what works best (at a price) in the developed world, and copy that.
If people do not have a fixation with SUVs, it should be easy enough to increase fuel efficiency.

Anyway, small diesels can now hit 4.5l / 100 km but they aren't cheap.


You say;
“such a low target as to be laughable
“complete waste of time and resources
“a spectacularly unambitious target
“not even a very ambitious goal for 2020.

Might be true, but the real and sad, sad situation (per GCC) is:
“For November, hybrids represented 2.22% of the new vehicle light duty market; year-to-date, hybrids hold a 2.4% share of new vehicle sales.” See (US Hybrid Sales in February Drop 29%; Lower Decline Than General LDV Market (5 MARCH 2009 GCC).
Same article also said, down in the 4th paragraph; “GM came in second for total [US] hybrid sales in the month, with 1,807 units sold.”
There must be some conspiracy here.
I know. GM will recall all their Tahoes, Yukons and Escalades, crush them and “kill the EV”.
Again .
Yup. Yup.


Tom makes a good point. Just over 2% of vehicle sales being hybrid leaves you with maybe 5% of the cars on the road in 2020 being hybrid. (given and increase in percentage sold over time) Even if hybrids get twice the milage, that would only increase over all mileage a few percent by 2020.

Oil imports to the U.S. is a major issue now and was a major issue 30 years ago, we just did very little about it. We shifted our purchases to non OPEC nations, as if that would solve everything. It did not and will not until we reduce the amount of oil that we use for transportation significantly.


Agree with Will et al.

IEA, a notorious oil front, is apparently needing something to do. This is typical of the vast sums of money being wasted on "studies" of all manner that mean nothing and accomplish less.

Please GCC, don't bother to publish this tripe. It only encourages these interlopers to squander more money of wasteful academia.

fred schumacher

The targets are low because the report is working on the assumption of continuing use of existing vehicle morphology and owner/operator behavior. Change those two variables and efficiency can increase much more rapidly.

The default morphology is for multi-purpose vehicles, even though primary use is single-purpose, lightly loaded, i.e., a single person commuting from a daily point A to point B and back. This type of behavior calls for primary use of a single purpose vehicle, say a 2-passenger 3-wheeler of 1,000 pounds or less. Such a vehicle could achieve 100 mpg with existing technology.

Instead of having a fleet dominated by multi-use vehicles operated in an inefficient, lightly loaded condition, we would have a fleet operated at appropriately loaded, highly efficient condition.


Change the existing vehicle morphology and owner/operator behavior.
Yes, and when we figure out how to do that;
have the swallows come to Berkeley instead of Capistrano.


Haven't we gone through this already? I seem to remember that wayback in 1993 some bright boy had the idea for a Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. And before this program was canceled in 2003 GM, Ford, and Chrysler all created working concept vehicles of 5 passenger family cars that achieved at least 72 mpg. Of course 6 years later we're still waiting.


Like Fred said, (part of) it is behavior.
I believe SUVs still out sell small cars.
Few people move to city-center, car pool, etc.
Yes, thankfully, these things are the new fad, but still not very significant.
It is changing, but way too slowly.

Concept vehicles are accurately named.
They can get any conceivable mileage.


The PNGV program did produce 3 prototype hybrid sedans that got more than 70 mpg. The automakers said that they would cost too much and no one would buy them. That was back in 2000, when it looked like Bush would steal the White House. Ten years later, Toyota has sold more than 1 million hybrids and the rest is history. The U.S. car makers had to sell high margin SUVs to pay the retiree health care.


More accurately;
Ten years after the PNGV program revealed their true potential, hybrids hold a 2.4% share of new vehicle sales.
That’s the rest of the history.
2.4% is really, really close to nothing.
The U.S. car makers had to sell high margin SUVs to pay the union wages, benefits, “no automation” rules, jobs bank and retiree benefits (including health care).
They could ill afford to sell hybrids at a loss also.


2.4% of sales is more than twice what it was just a few years ago.  Despite the higher price tag of hybrids, the fraction has been rising during the current sales slump.

If the military and other costs of protecting the oil supply were charged at the gas pump, hybrids would be heading for 5% already and the SUV market would be as dead as buggy whips.

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