A new report from the Department of Energy predicts that gasoline will still be the fuel of choice for a vast majority of the auto industry over 25 years from now, although it will be slightly less dominant than it is today.

The report, from the DoE's Energy Information Agency, predicts that by 2040, the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road will fall from today's 82 percent to 78 percent. This will be accompanied by a major rise in the average new-vehicle fuel economy, which should surge from the current 21.5 to 37.2 miles per gallon, leading to a four-percent drop in gasoline consumption by the US transport market. This is telling, as the same report predicts a 30-percent rise in miles traveled by the average American.

A surprising aspect of the report is the role of hybrids, though, which are expected to account for just five percent of the market, up from today's three-percent take, according to The Detroit News. Diesel power should double its market share, from two to four percent, while just two percent of the market will be plug-in hybrids or full electric vehicles. Where the report sees the biggest gains is in the use of so-called "micro hybrids" - gas-powered cars that utilize advanced features like stop-start and regenerative brakes - which are expected to account for 42 percent of the market.

Finally, in news that should make everyone happy, the price of fuel in 2040 is expected to rest around $3.90 for gasoline, besting a previous estimate of $4.40, and $4.73 for diesel, down from $5.03 in a previous EIA report.

What are your thoughts on all this? Do you think these predictions are accurate, or is there some aspect the report overlooked? Let us know in Comments.


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  • 149 Comments
      Sorten Borten
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Shop For A Vehicle" link that can't be completely hidden? AB / AOL has sunk to a new low. I think the report numbers are too conservative in terms of expectations for technological advances.
      wayne8734
      • 1 Year Ago
      I guess they seen it in their crystal ball.No way can they predict such,it being that many yrs. ahead.There's a hundred different things that could turn their prediction upside down.
      Cubaricua
      • 1 Year Ago
      Actually, with the advances in obtaining liquid fuel from renewable biological sources such as algae getting better and better, we really wont need to to look to alternative forms of propulsion. Internal combustion isn't the enemy, the type of fuel we put into them is. Remember, when Rudolph Diesel created his engine, the intention was for it to run on peanut oil. He was well ahead of his time.
        Grendal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cubaricua
        Burning fuel = hydrocarbons = carbon dioxide = carbon monoxide = particulates = health issues It is all a long term bad decision to stick with outdated technology. You're spending enormous amounts of energy to create fuel that you then burn.
          Nick Kordich
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Grendal
          More accurately: burning fuel -> tailpipe emissions (hydrocarbons, NOx, CO2, CO, particulates) -> health issues. CO and CO2 are not particulate emissions, so the equals sign doesn't work. Another technicality: hydrogen and ammonia ICE are possible and don't conform to that equation - no one's seriously proposing we pursue them, so I only mention them as curiosities, not as counterpoints.
          Grendal
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Grendal
          Thanks for the clarification. I was really just trying to generalize the point. You corrected and added to it, so thank you.
        mycommentemail
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cubaricua
        While you are correct in some ways, there is also the issue of other costs associated with burning hydrocarbons that Grendal points out. But ultimately the big change will be driven by economics. Even now a Nissan Leaf with its (relatively) higher initial cost is a better financial move for most people than a cheaper ICE vehicle. Once you start factoring in the cost of repairs over the life of the typical ICE powered car, the EV starts looking even better yet. The general public hasn't figured this out yet for a number of reasons. Range being the biggest. Questions about battery longevity being the second. Inertia being the third. (Full disclosure: I drive an ICE powered vehicle so I am including myself in this collection of people). But once range gets even a bit better (say 200 miles) and we start hearing more and more stories about how much cheaper the EV is (repairs and operation) I think you will start to see people making the switch. Once that happens it will start an accelerating (non-linear) rate of change over. What appears to be a trickle in the first five to ten years will be a flood in fifteen to twenty. I cannot predict the future, but every time I look at a disruptive technology there appears to be a similar trend. The tech exists for years with almost no commercial uptake. Then it drops in price enough that the very rich and first adopters start buying it (that is the stage where we are today with EV's). Then the price drops for the 2nd or 3rd generation (about 8-15 years later in car years) and it becomes mainstream, if still a bit expensive. By the 4th generation, however, the tech is so common that it drops in price dramatically. (Look at CD's. They existed for years before the first commercial player was on the market. And at that time the players that DID come out cost thousands of dollars. Within a few years, however, they dropped in price to that of "normal" stereo equipment - about $300. But about five to ten years later they dropped to the point that a new player cost no more than $15. Don't get me wrong. Cars will always be expensive because they are so much more than just the motive technology. But the mid range battery tech that goes into them (and the electric motors that will motivate them) will drop in price in a non-linear way. Thirty years from now EV's may not dominate the landscape, but they will be much cheaper and much better than they are now.
      Master Austin
      • 1 Year Ago
      Maybe, What if, could be, etc. I'm sure the report cost millions of dollars to put together, and I'm sure barely non of it will actually of it.
      Hal Jordan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Depressing.
      EZEE2
      • 1 Year Ago
      Barack Obama's DOE....obviously bought and paid for by Big Oil....send a message to Barack Obama now...no more support for Big Oil! (I love it when I can be Liberal EZEE).
      gosoaring10
      • 1 Year Ago
      As with hybrid vehicles, purchasing amost anything (green/recycled/naturally grown) costs more. So if you want to be environmentally responsible, you may not be able to afford it. WHY IS THAT?
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gosoaring10
        Basic economics. Seriously, it's hard to explain without explaining the basic economic principles of why stuff costs what it does. Picture a quadrant chart, which would look a little like the crosshairs in a gun scope. As things go up (along the Y-axis), they're more expensive. As things move from the left to right on the chart they become 'greener' (by whatever measure you're evaluating - reduced pollution, reduced use of resources, energy efficiency, etc.). Now, picture a normal car as being dead center in the crosshairs. If you plotted out cars, based on your question, you'd expect a diagonal line in which things on the left are cheaper and things on the right are more expensive. You would probably see a line there, especially when looking at 'green cars' like hybrids and EVs, but there are going to be points all over the chart. There are going to be many expensive, un-green things out there - many luxury and sports cars, for example. There will also be may green and less expensive things - small economy cars that cost less to own in part due to using less gas and resources to manufacture, which also reduces their footprints in terms of emissions and natural resource consumption. However, there is a real influence for the line to lead up and to the right when looking at things for their 'greenness' because it's a quantifiable and desirable feature. When a technology is efficient - such as electronic fuel injection as opposed to a carburetor - it's both 'green' and economic. If all else is equal it becomes incorporated into cars to the extent that it becomes the baseline, or in the case of the quadrant chart, the zero point where the two axes meet. As a result, it's no longer exceptionally 'green' or cheap, it's the norm. Only the efforts to move away from the norm - which tend to cost more in an attempt to squeeze greater efficiency out of a car - stand out as being green, and it's the extra effort to go in that direction that costs money. That includes adding features like a hybrid drive system or urea injection to a diesel. Cars that are 'green' are more expensive for the reason that cars that perform better are more expensive - they stand out from the norm because more features or effort was put into them, which translates into the vehicle being more expensive. Or if you want it in terms of basic economics: A. Stuff costs money. B. Stuff that doesn't cost money is free (either literally free or at no cost beyond the norm).
        Sheepdog 44
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gosoaring10
        Buy used cars! Fuel efficient affordable used cars can be bought today. And in the future current hybrids like the Prius will be common place on the used market. In 2012 i bought my 2001 Honda Insight for $3,200 minus a $700 beater Saab trade in for a $2,650 grand total when you factor in DMV costs. It had 128,000 miles. I average 70mpg in the summer and 65mpg year round. Early second gen Prii can be had for $5-6k. Buying used is affordable and environmentally friendly cause your'e extending the service life of a vehicle rather than commissioning a vehicle from brand new raw materials.
      XJ Yamaha
      • 1 Year Ago
      Until fuel supplies start dwindling to a point it's driving prices sky high, ICE autos will be the status quo. Eventually there will come a time when it's just not the case any longer, but it probably won't be within my lifetime. And who knows, humans will probably have killed ourselves off by then anyway....
        archos
        • 1 Year Ago
        @XJ Yamaha
        Ridiculous. Either governments will FORCE oil companies to abandon trillions in assets so temperatures stay within 2 °C goal or their will be catastrophic weather disasters which will cause a panicked reaction (taxes? production caps?) that will have the same outcome. All likely to happen long before 2040.
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      With each technology there is a tipping point. Take Flatscreens. 10 Years ago the majority of the Screens sold still used tubes. as the technology matured and mayor German Manufactures underestimated the flatscreen (too expensive, bad picture), they are bankrupt now, or almost gone. Take digital photography. the first cameras were bulky and offered low resolutions. they will NEVER be used in professional use, I had been told, the companies were not interested. No real photographer will consider a digital camera in the next years. and now? one can get a professional dslr for very low prices. The macros I take with my camera are so crisp and come in such a high resolution, it was unthinkable only a few years ago. (Agfa is gone now. they had HUGE stores where one coud buy 35mm films... teenagers can't remember today) lets take nokia. they were the market leader. you need a robust and decent phone? get a nokia. you need bluetooth and businnes - nokia. nokia is gone now, solt to microsoft. 2007 as the iphone was introduced, the management laughed themselves silly. the iphone is crap. ppl will never buy it. whe have our superior communicator. 3/4 year went by and the iphone still was selling like hot cakes. nokia now had a real problem and did not make it (solt to microsoft) samsung was fast enough with its galaxy series. no take the model S as iphone 2g. with each model the battery prices come down. and the range will increase. of course the model s has its flaws, like the first iphone 2g had. give it 10 years and no one wants to use gas anymore. the model s beats lots of cas cars today, with the only disadvantage of a slightly longer but FREE refill. Fancy big chrome side pipes? well in a few years you can show them at a museum. wether you like it or not. It can be Important of the future of a nation. TODAY german Autobild writes that TESLA DOMINATES the German Automotive industry ON ITS OWN TURF. As the development gathers now pace, it can be important where to put the weight on. 200 miles are close. 2015/16 Model E - BMW i5 - 200 mile GM Volt, 48kwh Nissan Leaf, also new contenders will enter the market. I bet that there will be a Samsung electric car soon. Oh wait it is already there. (Samsung SM3 electric) When one technology becomes better, the other becomes obsolete. “[Batteries] are developing much faster than I ever believed. Four years ago when we started on the LEAF program we imagined a 4 year cycle of the battery. Two years ago we went to a two-year cycle, now we are modifying the battery every model year.” - Nissan - Executive VP Andy Palmer 2040 we will still be using modems and telephones with dials...
      nick
      • 1 Year Ago
      i would never own a battery powered car
        George Jumper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nick
        No, but you will drive a 100 percent electrically powered car. Hydrogen Fuel Cell or the Flow cell. It is due on the market as we speak. When big oil forces you to buy the hydrogen at the pump rather then getting it from decomposing water you wallet will hurt so bad that you will beg for a battery!!! One that has a 3000 mile range. Yes the one that Bill gates and IBM patented two years ago called the lithium air. It's going in the rerelease Tesla sportster 2020. You speak without thinking first. Big oil is calling there future fuel hydrogen "gas" which it is. And most people will still be driving on "gas" well into the future!! Water powered cars are our future. Big oil will make you believe that they are the only place to get that one part of water that you need to fuel the car and the other part you can get from the air. Sorry, my car will plug in and use saltwater, stainless plates with 16th inch gap and 110 volts from a wall socket to make all the fuel my car will need.
      Ashton
      • 1 Year Ago
      hahahahha, this is just laughable. Gas powered cars going from today's 82% down to 78% by 2040! hahaha, that will happen before 2020. mark my words. Was this funded by big oil? I would like to point out that electric vehicles would take widespread adoption quicker if the EPA would let the free market do it's thing. By forcing the vehicle manufacturers to make higher mpg cars, they are trying to stall the electric car revolution. Nothing ever good comes out of politics trying to pick who the winners and losers are. So if Obama truly wants cleaner cars, by raising the CAFE standards, he is doing more harm then good. Thanks Pres! s/
        George Jumper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ashton
        They are not talking about gasoline my friend. They mean hydrogen. Fuel cell electric vehicles. They want us to believe we will have to get it from the pump. Think decomposition of water. Hoffman aperatus etc...... Only an idiot would buy hydrogen at the pump!!!!
        montoym
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ashton
        So, the only way to increase EV adoption is to handicap the competition? Got it.
          archos
          • 1 Year Ago
          @montoym
          The competition is causing global warming, so I'd say they're already handicapped. Oil production and profits should be highly taxed and the money given back to consumers and go into EV subsidies. The oil companies are not worth the trillions in damage they are and will be causing in global temp rises, so stop them.
      EvilTollMan
      • 1 Year Ago
      This report brought to you by Exxon. jk ;)
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