Fossil Fuels Forecast to Stay Predominant in Vehicle Transport to 2020

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Despite concerns over the escalating price of oil, liquid fossil hydrocarbons are forecast to remain the predominant fuel for the motor vehicle sector out to 2020, according to new research undertaken by automotive industry website just-auto.com.

In the OECD countries, fuel-economising technologies will begin to kick-in on a major scale

Despite concerns over the escalating price of oil, liquid fossil hydrocarbons are forecast to remain the predominant fuel for the motor vehicle sector out to 2020, according to new research undertaken by automotive industry website just-auto.com.

Although future oil prices over the period will remain unpredictable, the report says that there is no prospect of crude oil reserves becoming exhausted by 2020.

Furthermore and in contrast with some alarmist suggestions, the report's author Jeff Daniels maintains that the additional oil requirement beyond 2007 levels will be modest over the period, with all the additional demand coming from the developing world.

"In the OECD countries, fuel-economising technologies will begin to kick-in on a major scale," Daniels says.

The report also suggests that the rising need for fuel economy may drive some reconsideration of business and social organisation, perhaps with a return to 'vertically-integrated' regional communities rather than dependence on centralised supplies and the nationwide long-haul distribution of goods.

"The way we're organised today reflects cheap transport and if transport becomes a more precious and expensive commodity, trends in location could be expected to alter," maintains Daniels.

Biofuels contribution forecast at under 3% by 2020

The report also makes projections for biofuels take-up in road transport and reinforces the view that their role will, over the next decade or so, be marginal - in part a consequence of their land-use and food chain implications. But second generation biofuels beyond 2020 hold much more promise.

"By 2020, biofuels will be making a more significant contribution, but our forecast is that by then they will have gone through a cycle in which the first-generation biofuels have encountered problems and fallen from favour, and the switch to second generation biofuels, predominantly synthetic liquid hydrocarbons, will be in the early stages of acceleration," says Daniels.

"Thus our forecast is for biofuels to take less than a 3% share of the overall market even in 2020, although by then the biofuel market share will be steadily increasing."

Hydrogen contribution grows post-2020

In the longer term, however, the report concludes that it is feasible that fossil CO2 emissions can be eliminated from road vehicles, through the use of a combination of high-technology liquid biofuels, hydrogen and electric power.

The contribution of hydrogen is likely to increase beyond 2020 as fuel cell vehicles finally become available in significant numbers.

Battery electric vehicles will never take more than a small proportion of the total vehicle market but may become important in some niche markets, the report says.

More details of the just-auto report 'The future of road vehicle fuels - forecasts to 2020' are available by following link:
http://www.just-auto.com/futurefuels

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Chris Boaz
just-auto
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