Tomorrow's Vehicles: Alternative Fuels to Gain Traction

But diesel, gasoline vehicles will continue to dominate market share, says Fuels Institute

Published in CSP Daily News

Fuel Institute

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-- The growth of vehicles running on alternative fuels will accelerate over the next decade, but diesel fuel- and gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to dominate market share, according to "Tomorrow's Vehicles: What Will We Drive in 2023?" a new report released today by the Fuels Institute.

For light-duty vehicles (passenger vehicles and light trucks), gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to dominate the market, although overall market share could decline from 93% in 2012 to as low as 82% of vehicle inventories in 2023. Diesel-powered vehicles will potentially comprise nearly 7% of the market while flexible-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 could grow to more than 9% of the market.

Meanwhile, for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (commercial vehicles like trucks and buses), diesel-powered vehicles will prevail, representing at least 94% of the vehicle fleet in 2023.

"On the surface, it may not seem that significant change is occurring, because gasoline and diesel fuel-powered vehicles will continue to dominate the vehicle fleet in 2023, but alternatives are gaining traction," said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. "Consumers appear to be more open to alternatives than ever before and vehicle manufacturers are offering a wider variety."

Given that there are more than 250 million vehicles on the road today, it will take years of strong sales of alternative fuel vehicles to reshape the country's vehicle fleet. In addition, a variety of developments--including cost reductions for alternative-fuel vehicles, conveniently available refueling options, expanded vehicle range and overall consumer familiarity and confidence with new fueling options--will need to occur before alternative-fueled vehicles can capture significant market share.

"We need to ask--and answer--some tough questions so that the vehicles and fueling markets can develop together and convert consumers to new type of vehicles," said Eichberger.

The Fuels Institute, founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), is a nonprofit, research-oriented think-tank dedicated to evaluating the market issues related to consumer vehicles and the fuels that power them. It commissioned Navigant Research to provide a forecast of the vehicles market through 2023 that captures approximately two generations of vehicle development, providing a reliable look into the future but not reaching so far into the future as to be rendered unreliable.