Observations on the current happenings in the world of vehicles and the fuels that power them from Fuels Institute Executive Director, John Eichberger.
The first hybrid vehicle introduced to the United States debuted 22 years ago - the Honda Insight. The following year, the Toyota Prius entered the market and the hybrid market began to accelerate quickly. By 2007, sales eclipsed 350,000 units from just 13 models, and some were predicting that more than 100 hybrid models would soon be available for sale in the U.S. Those forecasts were never realized and year after year sales hovered at or below 3%, setting a record of 3.2% of sales in 2013 before slipping to less than 2% just three years later. But recent data indicates that automobile manufacturers may not have given up on this technology, and in the first quarter of 2021 hybrids clawed up to 4.5% of sales. What has changed and what can we learn from the experience of hybrid vehicles?
On the Road Again
If the global priority with regards to the transportation sector is to reduce carbon emissions, then putting all our eggs in one basket and waiting for electrification to transform the world is already a failed strategy. With nearly 1.5 billion vehicles in the world, and with more than 90 million new vehicles sold annually (*non-pandemic years, of course), it is impossible to envision a transition to relying on only battery electric vehicles (BEV) any time soon, no matter what governments may try to do with regards to sales requirements. So, what should be done with regards to the existing and continuing combustion engine-liquid fuels market?
Life is a Highway
On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order committing the United States to accept the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change. This was among his first acts as President and, in my opinion, symbolizes the commitment of his administration to pursuing policies that will reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. With this commitment comes the need to fully understand the options that may be available to policymakers, along with a comparison of their relative effectiveness and costs so that the best combination of policies can be developed and implemented.