Petrol power predicted to still rule in 2040

ANDREW MACLEAN
Last updated 13:12 23/12/2013

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Despite car makers spending billions developing electric cars, petrol-powered vehicles will still rule the roads by 2040 according to a report released by the US Energy Information Administration.

During a press conference held in Washington last week, the department's administrator Adam Siemenski outlined that within the report it predicts 78 per cent of vehicles in 2040 will still use a petrol-powered combustion engine – albeit a four per cent reduction in comparison to today.

The report said that, within that number, it predicts a significant rise in mild hybrid systems to improve fuel consumption with almost half of new cars sold in 2040 featuring some form of energy recovery technology.

It predicts that full hybrid vehicle sales will almost double from three to five per cent, with similar growth in diesel-powered vehicle sales – which is still relatively low in the US compared to Europe and Australia – with an increase from two per cent today to four per cent by 2040.

It says full electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids which can run partially on electric power alone will only make up two per cent of sales.

The EIA last year predicted that motorists would increase their average yearly mileage by 41 per cent in 2040, but has since revised that number to 30 per cent.

Despite the additional travel, it says the fuel consumption will continue to drop with the greater proportion of hybrid vehicles and continued improvements in efficiency for conventional engine technology.

It predicts that average fuel consumption will drop from today's 10.9L/100km to 6.3L/100km – which is well below the US Government's mandate that car maker's produce an entire fleet of vehicles that average 4.3L/100km by 2025.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed the trend is heading in the right direction with all US-built cars in 2012 generating a record low in terms of average fuel consumption of 9.9L/100km – a 10 per cent improvement over the previous year and the biggest drop in fuel consumption over the last 30 years.

As part of the EIA report, it also revised its prediction for fuel prices in 2040, dropping from its initial estimate of US$4.40/gallon to US$3.90/gallon on the back of increased domestic production.

-Fairfax News Australia

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