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ExxonMobil: diesel will surpass gasoline as the number one global transportation fuel by 2020

Xom fuel mix
Transportation fuel mix in millions of oil-equivalent barrels through 2020. Source: ExxonMobil Outlook. Click to enlarge.

Diesel will surpass gasoline as the number one transportation fuel worldwide by 2020 and continue to increase its share through 2040, according to ExxonMobil’s recently published Outlook For Energy: A View To 2040. The relative shift away from motor gasoline to diesel is driven by improving light-duty vehicle fuel economy and the growth in commercial transportation activity. Diesel demand accounts for 70% of the growth in demand for all transportation fuels through the forecast period to 2040.

Fuel demand for heavy-duty vehicles, the largest subsector, sees the greatest growth, up 65%, and accounts for 40% of all transportation demand by 2040. About 80% of the growth in commercial transport demand will come from developing nations, according to the forecast. Fuel for aviation and marine will increase about 75% and 90%, respectively, over the Outlook period, with their combined share growing from about 20% today to more than 25% by 2040.

Mix of the global vehicle fleet. Source: ExxonMobil Outlook. Click to enlarge.

By contrast, gasoline demand will be relatively flat, despite the doubling of the global personal vehicle fleet over the Outlook period from more than 800 million vehicles to more than 1.6 billion. As more energy-efficient vehicle options become available, conventional gasoline and diesel engine vehicles will make up a smaller share of the fleet over time, down to around 50% in 2040.

Around 2025, ExxonMobil expects hybrid vehicles will be less expensive and their share of sales will expand quickly, adding more efficiency to the fleet. Full hybrid vehicles will make up about 40% of the fleet in 2040—more than 50% of new car sales in 2040. In the latter part of the Outlook, electric and plug-in hybrids (utilizing a gasoline engine and battery-powered motor) will begin to play a more significant role, making up around 10% of new car sales in 2040, or about 5% of the fleet.

ExxonMobil forecasts that oil will remain the predominant fuel source for transportation through 2040, given availability of supplies and current economic and practical advantages over alternatives. With improvements in technology continuing to improve the fuel economy of conventional vehicles, alternatives such as plug-in hybrids or electric cars will need to make substantial progress to overcome their hurdles, including a $10,000 to $15,000 higher upfront cost plus range and functional limitations for drivers, according to the forecast.

Sources for fuel economy gains in light-duty vehicles. Source: ExxonMobil Outlook. Click to enlarge.

By 2040, new cars globally will average around 47 mpg US (5.0 l/100km) by 2040, compared to about 27 mpg US (8.7 l/100km) today. Engine and transmission improvements, along with lighter body nd accessory parts, are expected to improve efficiency of new cars by around 9 mpg. Overall efficiency will be increased through the introduction of smaller vehicle models and engines to meet government fuel economy mandates as well as increased penetration of hybrids.

The push-pull between a growing vehicle fleet and improving vehicle efficiency results in effectively flattening energy demand for personal vehicles in the Outlook, although the trends vary significantly by region. Declines of about 30% in the OECD are offset by the doubling of energy demand for personal vehicles in the non-OECD.

Other transportation-related conclusions from the forecast include:

  • The strongest growth in demand is in Asia-Pacific. The region remains the largest consumer of heavy duty vehicle energy and sees a significant increase in personal vehicle ownership—around 500 million vehicles from 2010 to 2040. By about 2015, transportation demand in Asia Pacific will exceed that of North America. Pacific.

  • In Asia Pacific, total transportation demand doubles with almost 60% of the growth occurring in the light-duty and heavy-duty vehicle sectors. India’s energy transportation demand more than triples, and personal vehicle demand accounts for more than 40% of this growth.

  • Together, Asia Pacific and North America constitue about 60% of global transportation demand in 2040. On a country basis, the United States will remain the largest transportation demand center, followed by China.

  • Fuel demand for personal vehicles—cars, SUVs and small pickup trucks—plateaus fairly soon and begins a gradual decline as consumers turn to smaller, lighter vehicles and technologies improve fuel efficiency.

  • ExxonMobil sees continued progress in fuel efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles. In non-OECD countries, heavy duty vehicle intensity—the amount of energy used per dollar of GDP—is expected to decline by 2% per year on average through 2040 as advances in technology and increased truck size create economies of scale. The OECD’s potential for future intensity improvements depend more on technological and logistical advances. In spite of issues such as increased traffic congestion, ExxonMobil sees a decline in OECD heavy-duty intensity of around 1% per year.

  • Although natural gas will play a greater role as a transportation fuel by 2040, it remains only a small share of the global transportation fuel mix, at 4% by 2040, up from today’s 1%.

  • The two greatest transportation markets for natural gas are heavy duty and marine. Favorable opportunities may exist for the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for heavy duty trucks, particularly along high-traffic corridors and including both long-haul and specific services (e.g., buses, waste management and utility vehicles).

  • Demand for natural gas for heavy-duty vehicles increases by 8 billion cubic feet per day (BCFD) by 2040. This growth assumes that more than 20% of new heavy-duty vehicle sales will be either compressed natural gas (CNG) or LNG. However, even with this significant increase, gas represents about 6% of total heavy duty vehicle demand by 2040.

  • ExxonMobil sees a shift toward natural gas in the marine sector, where it accounts for 8% of total demand by 2040.

  • The greatest growth in natural gas as a transportation fuel is in Asia Pacific and North America. By 2040, Asia Pacific will account for 50% of the demand for natural gas in transportation.



By 2040 the average new car should do 147+ mpg not 47 mpg like the Oil Barons wish?

My wife new hybrid already does 50+ mpg.

My next car will do much better.


"electric and plug-in hybrids will begin to play a more significant role, making up around 10% of new car sales in 2040"??

Huh? They think it's going to take another 25+ years before electrics start to become significant? Wishful thinking on their part.

And of course no mention at all about bio-fuels.

Predrag Raos

By 2040 the average new car should do neither 147+ mpg nor 47 mpg but 15 kWh/100 km.


And, if we let Standard Oil(Exxon) continue to run the country by buying our politicians with election money, these predictions will come true by Washington policy alone.

What is a shame is Standard Oil doesn't join in the clean energy movement and redirect their considerable resources for the benefit of the World instead of maintaining an adversarial position and continuing their polluting practices.

But, you know if they were to come out and support people instead of the God of Greed, I would find it difficult if not impossible to believe them anyway. It's just as well I guess that they are the enemy and the poster against "Good Health in America." It's easier to fight a real enemy than a set of sleazy policies created by pay off money.

Kit P

By 2040 the only place to find BEV will be in an antique car museum.

Even at the car museum there will be no interest in BEV. By 2020 BEV will be demonstrated to by the stupid idea that they are. By 2040, there will be a new generation of stupid politicians advocating stupid ideas. Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

“continuing their polluting practices ”

Of course it is consumers who are the polluters. Not me of course because my ICE does not pollute. We do not have a pollution problem where I live. That is true of almost everyplace place almost all the time in America. We solved the pollution problem by improving the ICE and fuel supply not by hauling batteries around.


Kit P and friends will be shocked to see all those ultra light and not so light e-vehicles around by 2020/2025. At 1000+ Wh/Kg, even a frail lady will be able to add a few plug-in fully charged 10 kWh modules, when required for longer trips.

The average EV will do 97% of the job with 3 or 4 (10 kWh) modules. The extra modules will be installed for long trips only and/or for users living further out.

Transparent solar cells/lights installed on large sun roofs, side windows, front and back windows will extend e-range of ultra light weight e- cars.

Uninstalled modules will be used as home APU and/or as part of the solar energy system.


Electric vehicles today are the equivalent of driving around with $1 a gallon gasoline all over again.. good ol' days!

Once battery tech improves a bit more the avalanche away from ICE will be unstoppable. Will people select 100 mile, 200 miles BEVs or will they go with less and a small range extender?.. no idea but all options are available today and people are starting to get comfortable with the idea.


No matter how good the milage we will all have to pay. Virginia has just passed a $100 tax per year on all hybrids for a road tax since less gas tax is available to them. I can only imagine if Bev's available it would most likely be $500 per year.


We need to get started on improving the efficiency of diesel fueled transport;


In March 2013 the sales of gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars combined for a record 3.64% of the market. That is not going to get us to 47 mpg.

It has been 20 years since the PNGV.

We had no good batteries then, and we do not now (though we MAY be much closer)

Why blame ExxonMobil or anyone except the people?

They are not the ones buying autos.

We are the ones not buying hybrids.


I am currently driving a Prius. I am satisfied with 50 mpg for now, but I am looking for a step up to plug-in for my next car. Even if my battery has a range of 20 miles it is still worth it to plug it in.

If Toyota comes out with a Prius plug-in with good acceleration that should be a very interesting combination of features.


China having a carbon tax could be a game changer. They could use this as a jumping board to the next level of technologies: improved batteries, molten salt reactors, and multi-band solar cells.

If we don't want to be left behind then we would have no choice but follow suit.


Why would China having a carbon tax change anything?

Why would it give them the next level of technologies: improved batteries, molten salt reactors, or multi-band solar cells?

This makes no sense.

Many auto makers did not pursue EVs for these last 20 years (while some progress has been made); They have not been left behind.

Nor would they have been left behind if significant progress had been made.


In 2012, electrified (1, 2, 3, and 4 wheel) vehicle sales in Japan were close to 24% and will probably reach 30% in 2013/2014 and close to 40% by 2020 or so.

The same trend, with a certain delay, is happening in China and California.

Kit P made a mistake. He probably meant that ICEVs not BEVs would become museum pieces by 2040 and they will.

TT. A progressive carbon tax of $20 to $100/tonne may be required in China and India. Otherwise, people in very large cities will have serious (costly) health problems very soon.


"This makes no sense."

It does to others, but not to you.

Kit P

“it is still worth it to plug it in ”

Worth it how? Not economically, not environmentally. TexasDesert is a Pious owner.

When we bought a Corolla for my wife I asked the dealer if you had some data to show that the Pious is a better choice. He told me they sell 'green' because it is good marketing. Unless TexasDesert has some independent data then he is just fooling himself.

“molten salt reactors, ”

TexasDesert knows zero about nuclear power. It is hard to beat LWR. There are some people who think something on paper is better than the real choices. China is buying LWR reactors from the west. They have copied the French design with is a copy of an American design. There is nothing wrong with 30 year old designs which is why that is what China is building until the get new experience from the west. Research is great but what does the research tell you.

When if comes to making electricity, China is building 100 GWe of fossil capacity for every 1 GWe of renewable energy or nukes. West Virginia exported about a half a billion dollars to both China and Japan. West Virginia is still down 5000 jobs because of weakness in the US economy.

Kit P

“Kit P made a mistake. He probably meant that ICEVs not BEVs would become museum pieces by 2040 and they will. ”

No mistake, my prediction is based on people not changing their buying habits. There is a trend. People do not buy cars with more than one expensive battery to start the ICE. People are still buying Corollas and F150s by the boat load. One reason is that the number of 30 year old Corollas and F150s still on the road is greater than various forms of BEV put together.

Getting people to change is hard. You need a compelling reason. Running out of fossil fuels would be a compelling reason. For each million BEV we will need one 1000 MWe nuke.

The only way my prediction would is if the doom and gloomers got it right for once. In 2040 if you want a BEV you will need to the golf cart shop.

Kit P

"It does to others, but not to you. "

So if you are clueless to start with it makes sense. There is a certain amount of logic to that which is why is hard to a have adult conversation with someone from California. hey dude you learned all you need to know from your surfer buddies.


Nobody really is currently able to predict the future of cars till 2040. The only provable thing is that overall petrol production and consumption will continue to rise at a steady state like it do since 100 years. some say that battery and battery hybrid is stopping petrol consumption. This is false as bev are selling very very few with subsidies and very few consumers buy them. bev are a mistake and will dissapear soon. to date nobody have competition for petrol. green algae is only in labs and never hit the market for real. hydrogen is a project since 12 years and never hit the market also. So today it's almost 100% petrol like it's been since 100 years. I was hoping for bi-fuel natural gas and gasoline cars and it could have been done since years but big oil want to go 100% petrol because they don't competition themself.

So in 2040 it will be 2x the production and consumption of conventionnal petrol of today due to population rise and industrial growth. All alternative to date have been a flop and in 2040 only 1% of the population will talk about new technologies that never hit the market.


The problem with nuclear power isn't technological, it's people. People are emotional animals and as long as the best thing you can say about a nuclear accident is 'the radiation didn't kill anybody' and the worst thing you can say about renewable energy is 'those off shore wind turbines spoil my view of the sunset' you will lose the argument.

Kit P

"the worst thing you can say about renewable energy"

The worse thing you can say about RE is that it does not work. It is not about winning an argument it is about making power when it is needed.


Hey Kit it must be depressing to be you because all technology advancements are pointless to you.

You can drive a Ford 150 if you like but I will drive a modern car.


Molten Salt Reactor should make nuclear energy cheaper, safer, and more sustainable.

Right now a light water reactor can burn 5% of a fuel rod's energy over the period of 5 years, then that fuel rod has to be moved to cooling ponds because of radiation damage. That is just a very wasteful practice.

Claude B.

US auto industries is late again. Since many years in Europe adopted the disc brakes, it took years before the US used it. Rear defrosting window came from Europe (VW?) long before the US. In WW2 they used natural gas for cars. Since recently the US is starting to use the natural gas for trucks.

The US is not ahead with the new technology --- yet --- in transport they are copying other countries.


The worse thing you can say about RE is that it does not work. It is not about winning an argument

Anyone who makes that statement has lost the argument.

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