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IEA: Fuel efficiency of road vehicles can be improved by 50% by 2050

21 September 2012

Two reports released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) conclude that, given the right policies and technologies, the fuel efficiency of road vehicles could be improved by 50% by the middle of the century, saving as much as 80% of current annual global oil consumption.

The transport sector currently accounts for 20% of global final energy consumption, and increased demand from this sector is expected to make up all future growth in oil use worldwide. But there is massive potential for fuel efficiency improvements to reduce demand for transport fuel. According to the two IEA reports, the world could stabilize demand for oil even if the number of road vehicles—passenger cars, two-wheelers and freight trucks—doubled by 2050.

“Tackling road transport energy use is vital to enhancing energy security and reducing carbon dioxide emissions globally,” IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones, said as he launched the reports. “Conventional combustion engine vehicles are set to be around for a long time and without the right policy mixes, like the ones described in these publications, the demand for energy from road vehicles will be unsustainable.”

One report, Technology Roadmap: Fuel Economy for Road Vehicles, describes the technologies needed (such as high pressure fuel injection systems) to achieve a much more efficient road-vehicle stock by 2030, while the second, Policy Pathway: Improving the Fuel Economy of Road Vehicles, describes the policy packages, made up of fuel economy labeling, standards and fiscal policies, that can help deliver improved fuel economy.

With the right policies, countries can use available, cost-effective technologies to greatly improve the fuel economy of road vehicles over the next 10 to 20 years. But governments need to act quickly. The new IEA “fuel-economy readiness” index measures the extent to which countries have implemented steps that will fully exploit the potential of existing fuel economy technologies and maximize their use in vehicles. It reveals that very few have policies in place to capitalize on the full potential of fuel economy improvements that could be achieved in the coming two decades.

The Technology Roadmap recommends:

The Policy Pathway, which offers guidance for governments on how to put in place policy measures to increase the fuel efficiency of vehicles, includes information on:

Source: IEA