- The average fuel economy (L/100 km) of new cars in OECD countries could be improved 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2030 at low or negative cost taking into account fuel savings. Improvements of the same order of magnitude appear possible in non-OECD countries where car fleets are growing fastest. Improving the efficiency of new cars at this rate would make possible at least a 50% improvement in the average fuel economy of all cars on the road worldwide by 2050 – thus, the 50:50 initiative.
- Even if vehicle kilometres driven double by 2050, efficiency improvements on this scale worldwide would effectively cap emissions of CO2 from cars at current levels. It is estimated that CO2 savings would exceed 1 Gt CO2 annually by 2025 and 2 Gt CO2 annually by 2050. Additional vehicular pollutants that also impact on the environment and contribute to climate change, including black carbon, would also be significantly reduced.
- This would likely save over 6 billion barrels of oil per year by 2050, worth USD 600 billion at an oil price of USD 100/bbl. In rapidly urbanising countries local air pollution benefits would also be considerable.
- These levels of improvement are achievable using existing, cost-effective incremental fuel economy technologies.
- The technologies required to improve the efficiency of new cars 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2030, and the efficiency of the global car fleet 50% by 2050, mainly involve incremental change to conventional internal combustion engines and drive systems, along with weight reduction and better aerodynamics. To achieve a 50% improvement by 2030, the main additional measures would be full hybridisation of a much wider range of vehicles (possibly including, but not requiring, plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies). Vehicle technology is changing rapidly and more cost-effective technologies are likely to emerge in coming years, increasing the potential and/or lowering costs further.
- Battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and possibly hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are expected to become increasingly available in the near-to-medium term given recent improvements especially in batteries. However, these advanced technologies are not necessary to achieve the 50% potential described here, but could result in further CO2 reductions and oil savings if they succeed in achieving mass-market commercialisation. This will also depend on the provision by the electricity sector of low-CO2 electricity.
- Beyond technology-based improvements to new cars, further low-cost efficiency improvements are possible for the entire global stock of cars, affecting actual “onroad” efficiency. These include programmes to promote efficient after-market products like replacement tyres, fuel-efficient driving style (ecodriving), improved traffic and speed management, better maintenance of the stock of vehicles and better management of mobility in cities. Finally, regulation or incentives to promote the fuel economy of imported 2nd hand vehicles might improve fleet efficiency in the developing world and have been used effectively to reduce the number of grossly polluting vehicles in circulation in a number of countries. These measures represent an important complement to technology measures for new cars and are also included in this initiative.
- For many individuals, much or all of the cost of improved technology for more fuel efficient cars could be offset by the fuel saved in the first few years of use of a new car, especially at high oil prices. But unstable oil prices, which can fall as well as rise, create risks that dissuade many car buyers from paying an upfront premium for efficiency and dissuade automobile manufacturers from investing in highly fuel efficient vehicles because they can not be sure of selling them.
- Governments and their partners can take action to counter these risks and facilitate the introduction of cost effective fuel efficient technologies.
- They can improve the information on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions available to consumers. For example, some fuel efficiency tests can be somewhat misleading as they do not accurately reflect average inuse fuel economy.
- They can set regulatory standards for fuel consumption or CO2 emissions that remove the uncertainty over how much investment in fuel efficiency is viable They can differentiate vehicle taxes according to CO2 emissions or fuel economy to encourage consumers to prefer improved efficiency.
- They can provide incentives and set regulations for vehicle components that fall outside current vehicle testing, incentive and regulatory systems.
- Governments also have a responsibility to minimise the costs of intervention, for example by keeping the differentiation of
vehicle taxes simple and similar across regional markets and ensuring coherence with vehicle fuel efficiency labelling systems.
- Car manufacturers can support the shift to more fuel efficient vehicles by committing themselves to the objectives of this initiative and working toward producing vehicles that use 50% less fuel than at present. They need to work with governments to ensure effective regulatory standards are adopted and to incorporate international market considerations in the design of national tax incentives and labelling systems. There should also be consideration that different manufacturers focus on different market segments.