Transportation DeCarbonization Blueprint: Light Duty Vehicles

The US National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization splits the Transportation sector into seven categories of focus: Light-Duty Vehicles, Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Off-Road, Rail, Maritime, Aviation, and Pipelines. We will discuss the major items involved in each of these, from largest % of carbon share to least, starting with Light Duty Vehicles.

Light-Duty Vehicles produce 49% of current transportation emissions (of note, for the purposes of the Blueprint “current” refers to 2019 levels due to the pandemic and related shutdowns making 2020 & 2021 data unreliable/useless).

The United States has over 280 million light duty vehicles on the road and these vehicles:

  • Account for 75% of passenger transport miles,
  • Account for 50% of total transportation energy use and emissions
  • Consume over 120 billion gallons of gasoline annually
  • Emit over 1,000 MMT CO2 annually

As we are all aware, Light Duty Vehicles (LDV) in the US have been subject to increasingly strict emissions requirements over the past few decades, and we have seen a massive increase in the availability of electric vehicles (EV) as well. To put specific numbers on it, in the past 15 years, LDVs have seen a 30% improvement in fuel economy (some of the ultimate impact of this however was mitigated by the trend toward larger, more fuel intensive passenger vehicles during that time period). EV have seen an explosion in popularity, it used to be you’d see a Prius or Volt here or there, now you would be hard pressed to drive to Boston without getting stuck behind a Tesla or two. Again, in terms of specific numbers, EV sales reached over half a million vehicles sold, bringing the total to 4.5% of market share in 2021 (18% in California!).

One of the major focuses of the blueprint in the LDV sector is the promotion of EV and zero emission vehicles, with an obvious preference for EV adoption. In tandem with EV adoption, there is a necessary push for charging infrastructure to make them a more feasible option for consumers. The goal is to have 50% new light duty EV sales by 2030, which would be a major step down the road to the ultimate goal of 100% EV adoption.

There is also an included focus on “Funding Research and Innovation” in this section of the Blueprint, which largely functions as an acknowledgement that we aren’t quite there on battery life and battery cost. Part of the legislative language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) included large investments toward the development of a reliable EV manufacturing supply chain. The legislation also references research and development aimed at achieving price parity between EV and traditional combustion engine vehicles to make them more accessible to the average consumer in terms of price, practicality, and maintenance costs over time. Studies indicate that battery cost has dropped 90% from 2010 to 2020, and projections indicate that when the price reaches $100/kwh the MSRP on EV will hit parity with combustion engine vehicles. The legislation mentioned above intends to fund the research on battery technology to make those price levels reality.

So that is the overview, the major takeaways being that the major goals for this section are:

  • “Achieve 50% of new vehicle sales being zero-emission by 2030, supporting a pathway for full adoption, and ensure that new internal combustion engines are as efficient as possible.”
  • “Deploy 500,000 EV chargers by 2030”
  • “Ensure 100% of Federal Fleet procurement be zero-emission by 2027”

Obviously, for the purposes of energy suppliers, particularly at the consumer level, the growth of EV adoption implies a longer-term shift in the mix of gasoline demand and delivery, especially to stations and municipalities. Actual changes in market share of EV and zero-emission vehicles is something to watch.

Next up, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

Stay Tuned!


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