Alternative-Fuel Vehicles to Gain Traction Over Next Decade

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Alternative-Fuel Vehicles to Gain Traction Over Next Decade


ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The number of vehicles running on alternative fuels will increase during the next 10 years, but traditional gasoline will continue to dominate the marketplace, according to Tomorrow's Vehicles: What Will We Drive in 2023?, a new report from The Fuels Institute.

Light-duty gasoline-powered vehicles are expected to decline from 93 percent of the market in 2012 to as low as 82 percent in 2023, according to the report released today by The Fuels Institute, a division of NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. Diesel-powered vehicles are expected to comprise nearly 7 percent of the fuels market, while flex-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 could grow to more than 9 percent by 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 wide variety."

Regarding the growth of specific alternative fuels, flex-fuel vehicles show the most promise. In 2012, only 4.7 percent of light-duty vehicles were flex-fuel vehicles. However, that number is expected to double by 2023.

All other alternative fuels are expected to show considerable comparable growth, but together they will represent 1 percent or less of the light-duty market, The Fuels Institute reported. By 2023, natural gas vehicles are expected to represent only 0.43 percent of the market; propane will come in at 0.07 percent; battery-electric vehicles will reach 0.72 percent; and fuel cells just 0.02 percent of the market.

"Without coordination between the vehicle and fueling industries, successful market introduction of these systems will be characterized by starts and stops, booms and busts and a protracted -- and potentially painful -- market development phase that may or may not result in consumer acceptance," said Eichberger. "Consumers have more vehicle options than ever and where they choose to invest their money will determine the future."

As for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, diesel-powered vehicles will prevail in 2023, representing at least 94 percent of the vehicle fleet, according to the report.

Alexandria, Va.-based The Fuels Institute is a nonprofit, research-oriented think tank dedicated to evaluating market issues related to consumer vehicles and the fuels that power them.