New cars and trucks could improve fuel efficiency by 50 percent if existing technologies such as hybrids are adopted
Fuel efficiency of new vehicles could improve by 50 percent in the next two decades and put the world on track to curb global warming if policies are implemented to spur the adoption of automotive technologies that already exist, according to a set of reports released yesterday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
“We cannot afford to wait for an expected electric and/or hydrogen solution,” said Richard Jones, IEA’s deputy executive director. “We must act now to move toward a low-carbon transport system. Without such action, transport energy demand will reach unsustainable proportions, particularly in emerging economies.”
The transportation sector currently makes up one-fifth of the global energy consumption and could make up all future growth of oil use as the demand for personal mobility increases.
Gasoline and diesel vehicles will continue to dominate the marketplace over the next two decades, making up more than 90 percent of the global fleet in 2030, said the firm. But with the right mix of policies, conventional vehicles can cut fuel consumption in half in the next 20 years.
According to IEA’s “Technology Roadmap,” internal combustion engines can be significantly improved using cost-effective technologies, such as variable valve actuation and lift, dual-clutch transmission and downsizing. Hybridizing the drive train can cut a vehicle’s fuel use by as much as a quarter but comes at a higher cost.
Optimizing the vehicle body with improved aerodynamics and lighter-weight materials can also improve fuel economy. Finally, changing driver behavior with eco-driving training, or the avoidance of sudden starts and stops and idling, can improve fuel efficiency up to 10 percent.
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