50by50 Prospects and Progress

- By:

Courtesy of Transport and Environment (T&E)

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative was launched in early 2009. It set a target of improving the average fuel economy (in litre/100km terms) for the global lightduty vehicle fleet by at least 50% by 2050 (50by50).1 This level of improvement is envisaged to be feasible using “existing, cost-effective incremental fuel economy technologies.

”2 The purpose of this report is two-fold. First, to assess the prospects for reaching the 50by50 goal in the light of on-going research and other
developments that have occurred over the past year or so, and second, to assess the progress being made in reaching that goal.

Although the 50by50 target is a global target, the situation differs significantly between regions. For example, in Asia there is a large share of relatively
small cars and thus the average new car fuel economy is currently better than in some of the OECD countries.3 Recent GFEI-sponsored research on fuel economy potential for India and China suggests that, except for very small and inexpensive cars in those countries, the levels of engine and  drivetrain technologies used today do not vary substantially compared to the level employed in the US and EU markets.

Although growth in GDP per capita and consequent shifts in consumer demand towards cars at the higher cost end of the product range is likely to increase the average size, weight and power of vehicles in markets such as China and India, technology improvements should be able to compensate and help improve fleet average fuel economy over time - given appropriate regulatory incentives.

Whilst a 50% improvement in fuel economy may be very difficult to achieve in countries starting from such relatively economic fleets as India today, some regions such as the EU are on a path for greater than 50% improvement. Overall, since currently about two-thirds of new cars are sold in the OECD, the 50% GFEI target still appears appropriate and achievable on a world-wide basis.

More specifically, the 2005 average global new vehicle fuel economy level of about 8 L/100km can probably be reduced to close to 4 L/100km. This is
equivalent to increasing fuel economy from about 30 to about 60 MPG, from 12.5 km/L to 25 km/L, or reducing CO2 emissions from gasoline vehicles from 186 gCO2/km to 93 gCO2/km.4 A new vehicle fleet average fuel economy level of 4 L/100km by 2030, or something close to it, may be a useful target for most countries to aim at.

In some countries it may be necessary to augment the incremental technology improvements described elsewhere in this paper, with widespread use of electric vehicles to reach these targets. The need for this will depend on whether additional incremental fuel economy technologies not accounted for in current studies become available and achieve widespread commercialization over the next 20 years. More generally, the regulation of fuel economy will tend to limit increases in vehicle size and performance, and in some countries regulation to meet the targets may require changes to the current size mix and/or performance of vehicles.




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