Why the EIA’s forecast for Electricity use in Cars misses the Point

The latest long term forecast from the Energy Information Administration, the Annual Energy Outlook, paints a small but pretty rosy picture for the growth of electricity demand for cars.   Converted to gasoline gallon equivalents the growth in demand is forecast to grow from essentially nothing today to over 300 million gallons in 2040.

Electricity as Transport Fuel

Sound good until you add some perspective.   We use about 130 billion gallons of gasoline per year today and that is forecast to decline to 100 billion gallons in 2040.  So according to the EIA it will take us 26 years we’ll have converted about 0.32% of gasoline using electricity.  I don’t think our friends at Tesla would agree, but my point is that even if that were true, it misses the bigger picture.

Auto Fuel Demand Forecast with Notes

The impact of electric cars is not going to be seen in direct electricity consumption to charge batteries.  The impact is the role of the electrification of the the drive train of the vehicles has on the overall fuel efficiency of the cars we’ll be driving.   This efficiency impact will destroy 30 billion gallons of annual gasoline demand over that same 26 year horizon.  That is certainly a much bigger point.  Bigger for the environment, bigger for the oil company’s, bigger for the automakers, and most importantly bigger for the consumers who will see their cost of getting around town continue to decline over time.

Despite the lead Toyota has built with the Prius in recent years I think Ford is doing the best job of migrating their overall strategy and design to capture the efficiency offered by electrifying the power train.  I have screen grabbed a good graphic that Ford uses to explain this, and they have done a good job of depicting the transition that is happening across all makes and models.

ford electric plan



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