The Commute


Observations on the current happenings in the world of vehicles and the fuels that power them from Fuels Institute Executive Director, John Eichberger.

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Walking on the Moon

  John Eichberger |  September 2020

Similar to the commercially relevant derivatives of the Apollo program, the investments to develop technology that will enable autonomous vehicles are delivering benefits and enhancing the safety of transportation today through advanced driver assist systems. At a time when drivers are more distracted than ever (nearly 40,000 people were killed in vehicle collisions in 2019), the availability of these systems could not be more timely – and they are becoming much more common. If these systems can reduce accident-caused congestion and mitigate stop-and-start traffic conditions, they not only will yield safety improvements, but they also could significantly contribute to fuel efficiency and energy savings.

Fall Back Down

  John Eichberger |  August 2020

In April 2020, the SAAR dropped to 9.09 million – its lowest level since December 1981!  (The lowest it reached during the Great Recession was 9.22 in February 2009.)  The implications seemed devastating. Fortunately, the industry has rebounded quite a bit since April and in August the SAAR was back to 15.2 million. But again – what vehicles were people buying during the COVID pandemic?

Runnin’ Down a Dream

  John Eichberger |  July 2020

A popular vision for the future of transportation has been assigned a variety of acronyms, but the one I seem to like the best is ACES – it makes me think of Molly Ringwald rolling her eyes in the John Hughes’ classic film, “Sixteen Candles.”  It stands for Autonomous Connected Electric Shared and presents a scenario in which human-driven vehicles become a thing of the past, traffic accidents and congestion are eliminated, and vehicle emissions disappear.

I’ll Be Around

  John Eichberger |  June 2020

Even though electric-drive vehicles are the up and comer technology and will play a significant role in the market in the near future, when we consider that the overwhelming majority of drivers continue to rely upon liquid forms of energy, it seems the attention paid to electricity is disproportionate.

Crazy Train

  John Eichberger |  May 2020

If you let your mind wander around the innumerable scenarios that may materialize in the coming months and years, it is enough to make you a little crazy - “Aye aye aye.”  Luckily for me I can always find an appropriate soundtrack to get me through.

I Can See Clearly Now

  John Eichberger |  April 2020

Growing up in Southern California in the 1970s and 1980s, I experienced first-hand the impact of air pollution and smog. There were so many days as a child that we were not able to take recess outside because of Smog Alerts indicating that it was unhealthy to be outside. There was a real necessity to change.

Things Will be Different (And Together We’ll Push On)

  John Eichberger |  March 2020

There is nothing normal about what is happening throughout the world right now–a worldwide pandemic, oil price wars between two major global players, a stock market operating on the fundamentals of a yo-yo, and glares of condemnation towards anyone suffering with seasonal allergies.

Ring of Fire

  John Eichberger |  February 2020

In mid-January, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Annual Energy Outlook 2020 presenting their projections for the energy sector through 2050. I look forward to this report every year – it is big and complex, but when using the interactive table viewer, I am able to narrow my focus on those elements that will have the most relevance to the transportation energy market.

The More Things Change

  John Eichberger |  January 2020

As we begin a new decade, I will predict that the transportation market at the end of 2029 will look remarkably different from the one we just left at the end of 2019. Many of the pieces that will shape the next 10 years are beginning to fall into place and there is tremendous enthusiasm throughout the market.

Counting Blue Cars

  John Eichberger |  December 2019

Powertrain. Performance. Safety. Efficiency. Price. These are the things we most often discuss when we try to unravel why people buy one vehicle over another – they are measurable, comparable, rational.  But – are car buyers always rational?