How to cut the fuel consumption of cars


Leipzig – By using existing cost-effective technologies it is possible to reduce average vehicle fuel consumption (Lge/100km) by 50% by 2050, according to the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI).

A report by the group, distributed at the global summit of the International Transport Forum (ITF), found that such improvements in the reduction of fuel consumption would include engine performance, weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and reduced tyre friction.

The global number of light duty vehicles is set to increase from about 850 million passenger cars in 2013 to over 2 billion by 2050, according to the GFEI. Nearly 90% of this growth is expected in non-OECD countries (countries who have not signed the convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

It's also expected that 2.7 billion more people will be living in urban areas in the world by 2050 than in 2013.

Efficient transport

“While huge benefits can result from greater personal mobility, such a growth in the number of light duty vehicles is unsustainable in terms of resource use, congestion and air quality,” cautioned the GFEI.

It pointed out that transport currently makes up 23% of energy related carbon emissions. Rising prosperity and population growth, however, mean that emissions are set to increase if no action is taken, it cautioned. That is why it is expected by this year or next year that transport emissions from developing countries will be more than those from developed countries.

The GFEI emphasised that more efficient vehicles will help to contain predicted increases in carbon emissions, especially if used along with measures such as the use of alternatively fuelled vehicles; the use of low carbon fuels; shifting to more efficient transport modes and avoiding motorised transport.

According to the GFEI there are three different technology options which can provide very low carbon driving - these are the use of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in combination with low carbon electricity; the introduction of highly efficient hybridised internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and PHEVs in combination with sustainable, low carbon biofuels and the use of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) fuelled with low-carbon hydrogen.

“All three options can substantially contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but hinge on overcoming different barriers,” the GFEI found.

“The provision of economic on-board energy storage as well as the built-up of the required fuel production, transmission and distribution infrastructure are pivotal to finally get to very low carbon driving.”

Lower purchasing power

A study by the GFEI on fuel economy in light duty vehicles in SA found that most of the fuel economy improvements were achieved in the large and medium market segments. Both gasoline and diesel technologies contributed to lower fuel consumption after 2010.

The study also found that the introduction of differentiated taxation of newly registered vehicles in SA in 2010 had a visible impact on the way vehicles were marketed in the country.

Before 2010 SA vehicle weight and footprint increased, while fuel economy improvement was of secondary importance for most consumers.

After 2010, fuel economy improvement accelerated and the shift towards heavier and larger cars slowed down in all segments.

The GFEI used SA as a good example of how fuel economy standards tend to guarantee progress towards lower average fuel consumption in new vehicle sales.

“Differentiated vehicle taxation seems to be effective even when not coupled with fuel economy standards, especially in markets with lower purchasing power due to low average income levels – the case of SA is especially interesting in this respect,” the GFEI said.

“Differentiated vehicle taxation is also generally easier to set up than fuel economy regulations – it should be prioritised, especially in developing regions.”

 - Fin24 is a guest of the International Transport Forum at its global summit in Leipzig.

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