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Fuel Economy And Car Use Trends

Automobile Fuel; Economy and CO2 Emissions in Industrialized Countries: Troubling Trends through 2005/6
Lee Schipper EMBARQ, the World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport 10 G Street, NE, Suite 800 Washington, DC, 20002
ABSTRACT A review of recently available data on both on-road fuel economy and new cartest fuel economy shows that while US on-road fuel economy has been flat for almost 15 years, major European countries and Japan have shown modest improvements in response to “voluntary” agreements on fuel economy, steadily rising fuel prices (since 2002), and to some extent shifts to smaller cars and 2nd family cars. At the same time the sales weighted average of new vehicles sold in the EuropeanUnion, expressed in terms of their implied CO2 emissions, have fallen short of 2008 goals. That a significant part of the improvements in Japan are related to the growing share of mini-cars (displacement under 600 CC) suggest that technology is not the only factor that can or will yield significant and rapid energy savings and CO2 restraint in new cars. Fuel economy technology, while important,isn’t the only factor that explains differences in tested or on-road fuel economy when comparing vehicle efficiency and transport emissions in different countries. Fuels, technology, and driver behavior also play significant roles in how much fuel is used. As long as the upward spiral of car weight and power offsets much of the impact of more efficient technology on fuel efficiency, fuel economy willnot improve much in the future. And as long as the numbers of cars and the distances cars are driven keep creeping up, technology alone will have a difficult time offsetting all of these trends to lower fuel use and CO2 emissions from this important sector.



Fuel Economy And Car Use Trends

1. AUTOMOBILES, FUEL AND CO2 IN A LONGER TERM PERSPECTIVE Energy use and travelfor personal transport in wealthy countries is dominated by automobiles. While fuel economy improvements and some slowing of the rise in ownership and use of automobiles has lowed the growth in fuel use, these vehicles still account for roughly 9% of total energy use (and 20% of oil use) in OECD countries, with higher shares in the United States (1.) Their share in total energy use in developingcountries is smaller, but rising rapidly (2). Since most all fuel is from oil products or natural gas, automobiles also account for a significant amount of global release of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas associated with climate change. Hence the automobile and its energy use is a central focus of energy and environmental authorities in almost every country. This paper focuses on aautomobile fuel economy, defined as fuel use per traveled of automobiles and household light trucks. By paying some attention to car ownership and use, as well as new vehicle characteristics like weight, power, and fuel, policy makers gain of understanding of what is causing total fuel use to rise, and what components of that rise might be changing towards restraint of fuel use. This work updates a seriesof papers by Schipper and co-workers. Schipper et al. (3,4) set out some of the difficulties facing development of data and subsequent analysis of the components of automobile fuel use, particularly in countries like the United States, where actual fuel use is not surveyed and vehicle usage only inferred from infrequent travel surveys. Schipper and Tax (5) reviewed the fundamental problem ofunderstanding the gap between tested new vehicle fuel use and that obtained in real traffic. (6) presented an historical analysis of automobile usage and fuel consumption in a dozen countries of the International Energy Agency, work which led to usage and fuel economy published in the ORNL data book (7). Ref. (8) carried out the first international cross-section, time-series econometric analysis...
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