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February 10, 2011

EIA projects rapid growth in unconventional vehicle sales

EIA projects rapid growth in unconventional vehicle sales

In December 2010, EIA presented results from the Annual Energy Outlook 2011 Early Release Reference case (AEO2011), which projects U.S. energy markets through 2035. The Reference case generally assumes no changes in current laws and regulations. For fuel economy standards, it includes the standards that have already been set through the 2016 model year, as well as a further increase to meet the 2020 requirement enacted in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA2007).

Highlights from the AEO2011 transportation outlook:

  • Unconventional vehicles - vehicles using diesel, alternative fuels, and/or hybrid electric systems - account for over 40% of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales in 2035. Initial growth by 2015 in unconventional vehicle sales is largely driven by the adoption joint CAFE and greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2012 to 2016.

  • Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) that can use fuel blends containing up to 85% ethanol make up 48% of unconventional vehicle sales in 2035. The reasons for FFV growth include:

    • Manufacturers receive credits towards meeting CAFE standards by selling FFVs for all model years through 2016.
    • The renewable fuels standard (RFS) as amended by EISA2007 requires the use of 36 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons per year of biofuels by 2022 if available.

  • New light-duty vehicle fuel economy achieves almost 38 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2035. This includes the requirement of a 35 mpg minimum for light-duty vehicles with a model year of 2020 or later mandated by EISA2007.

    • The AEO2011 Reference case excludes certain pending CAFE standards because the specific details have not been established. Among the excluded standards is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) September 2010 notice of pending revisions to CAFE standards for 2017 and later model year light-duty vehicles.