It has been a while since I wrote about automotive news and how we are going to move Beyond Oil (the name of the Sierra Club Campaign to get the U.S. off of oil by 2050).  In fact, the Sierra Club Board of Directors, of which I am one, voted last week at our November Board meeting, to officially adopt the goal of a 50% reduction of oil use in the U.S. by 2030.

That may seem like a stretch, but I strongly believe we will not only meet that goal but exceed it at least in the use of gasoline in the automotive sector.  Here’s why:

  • Changing demographics.  Baby boomers are retiring and in so doing, driving less.  And we make up a disproportionate percent of the population.  Meanwhile, Millennials are waiting later to get their driver’s licenses and less of them are getting them at all.  They are also moving or living in cities as opposed to going to the suburbs and using mass transportation and biking and walking more.  In addition, TOD, transportation oriented development, is rapidly gaining traction which will further reduce driving.  With more bike lanes and bike sharing growing exponentially along with greater and safer walking infrastructure being built (my own home town of Highland Park, IL adopted our own plan in 2012 and it is being executed) more and more people will be walking and biking.  All of this will lead to a drop in VMT (vehicle miles traveled).  I am estimating that this will by itself reduce VMT by 15% or more by 2030.  That will leave only a 35% reduction in gasoline use to hit the 50% reduction.

  • MPG.  The way I figure it on the back of an envelope (and I hope that our Beyond Oil Campaign will do the math in a more vigorous manner) if we go from a current fleet average of about 24.5 MPG today to 40 MPG by 2030, a 63+% increase, on the remaining miles driven, we will easily hit the 50% reduction.  And right now, that looks like a no brainer since we already have a law that calls for 54.5 MPG by 2025 in new vehicles being sold then.  And take into consideration that, despite what the pundits are saying, I predict that by 2020, EV’s and PEV’s (plug in electric vehicles) will begin to gain substantial mass appeal and sales.

I’ve linked in several recent articles from Automotive News that documents the drive to reach the MPG goals set out by the current regulations.  

Once again it is apparent that vast change is coming and not all that hard to accomplish.  There are other challenges to getting off oil that go beyond the light duty car and truck industry.  But that is for another article.

Meanwhile, check out these articles from Automotive News:

MPG March on Schedule, EPA   says:

Road to Mythical 54.5 MPG not Likely to Change:

Shades of Green:  Yes, sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids have disappointed, but the industry has still made big strides in fuel economy:

14 New Toyota Engines Seek 10% Gain in MPG: Powertrain Overhaul covers 30% of lineup by 2016:

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