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Traffic landscape is changing

New study predicts conventional gasoline vehicles dwindling over next 10 years

Published: December 26, 2014, 1:55 PM
Updated: June 19, 2018, 9:03 AM

BMW start/stop instrument panel light

The overall makeup of traffic is going to look a lot different in coming years, according to a recent study of trends and their ramifications.

Navigant Research — a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets by combining supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research, demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends — has released a new report titled Automotive Fuel Efficiency Technologies, in which it claims that although gasoline will remain the leading fuel over the coming decade, it’s dominance in the transportation sector will dwindle through the use of smaller engines, turbocharging and electric hybridization.

The study concludes that conventional gasoline-powered vehicles are expected to make up less than half of new vehicles sold worldwide by 2017.

“There is no single technology that will dominate fuel efficiency improvements through 2025,” states David Alexander, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “The focus, instead, will be on incremental improvements in engines and transmissions, along with weight reduction.”

Navigant sees stop/start technology as one the prime influencers as manufacturers strive to meet ever more-stringent fuel economy and clean-air initiatives around the world. The technology that stops the engine as the vehicle comes to a full stop and restarts it when the brake pedal is released was initially implemented on hybrid electric cars, but has since spread to conventional gasoline and diesel engines as the benefits of reducing excessive idling came to the forefront or air-quality research.

Navigant is forecasting that vehicles employing the technology will account for 58 percent of the new car market by 2025 (when stringent new rules on fuel economy will come into play in the U.S.), and that more conventional vehicles will also use regenerative braking (to capture otherwise dissipated energy) to aid in powering electronics, which would help reduce the size of vehicle batteries and, hence, overall vehicle weight to improve fuel economy.

In a separate report, Navigant also forecasts that 14 percent of the medium and heavy-duty truck market will run on alternative fuels (most notably natural gas or propane, which are already widely in use), although diesel will still hold a three-quarter share of the fuel market for those commercial vehicles. The firm also predicts that many commercial vehicles will embrace energy recapturing and stop/start technologies as a means of saving fuel and reducing operating costs.