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).
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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.
- 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.