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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Everybody Wants to Rule the World

  John Eichberger |  December 9, 2020

In general, the developed economies of the world are uniting in their pursuit of a lower carbon/carbon neutral/net zero carbon emissions transportation system. It is a laudable goal and one that deserves careful attention, commitment and coordinated action to reduce carbon emissions throughout the global market. Yet, at the end of 2020 there seemed to be a significant lack of coordination, especially when we consider the flurry of activity with regards to banning the sales of internal combustion engines in the relatively near future.

When It’s Love

  John Eichberger |  November 5, 2020

“The road is calling and I must go.” Those are the words on the framed poster above my desk, hovering above the image of Porsche 911 cruising on a winding mountain road. The open road has been a siren’s call for me my entire life – but that draw, that love affair with cars and driving that has been so strong throughout America’s recent history, seems to be fading away…especially among younger generations who are more drawn to technology than shiny objects on wheels. That, however, could represent an opportunity for the auto industry to regain some of its appeal.

Walking on the Moon

  John Eichberger |  October 5, 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 |  September 8, 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 |  August 6, 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 |  July 9, 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 |  June 3, 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 30, 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 |  April 6, 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 |  March 2, 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.