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A new study has found that electrification of light-duty vehicles (LDVs) is going to be crucial to ensure that fuel economy can be effectively improved, especially if diesel shares keep falling.

The global average fuel consumption of newly registered LDVs reached 7.2 litres of gasoline-equivalent per 100 kilometres (Lge/100 km) in 2017 within an LDV market where sales have grown by around 10% between 2015 and 2017.

This is according to a report issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which builds on a series of Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) working papers investigating the fuel economy of newly registered LDVs across the world from 2005 to 2017.

The GFEI is a partnership of the IEA, United Nations Environment Programme, International Transport Forum of the OECD, International Council on Clean Transportation, Institute for Transportation Studies at University of California Davis, and the FIA Foundation.

The results are tracked relative to established GFEI targets, which are an intermediate target of 30% improvement of new LDV fuel economy, weighted globally, by 2020, and 50% by 2030. Read more: Who will win the eco-transportation race?

Electrification of vehicles

Electrified vehicles are already contributing positively to improve the country-weighted average fuel consumption by up to 3.5%.

Japan experienced the largest gains due having to the largest market share globally for hybrids, followed by the United States with a mix of electrified vehicle types (HEV, BEV, and PHEV).

Electrification in China was also very relevant to improve the average fuel economy, thanks to a fast-growing market share for BEVs and PHEVs.

Countries that currently have high average fuel consumption values (which typically go hand-in-hand with high shares of large and heavy vehicles) can benefit the most from electrification since electrified vehicle efficiency is less dependent on size and weight.

Credit: IEA

Policy recommendations

Meeting the 2030 GFEI target at the global level requires a widespread adoption of regulatory policies setting requirements for the improvement of fuel economies over time, combined with fiscal instruments to stimulate consumer demand for the vehicle technologies that offer the best performance.

Long-term commitments are important to ensure that the investments necessary to deploy electrification technologies, which are crucial to meeting the GFEI targets in a phase where consumers are losing confidence in diesel, can take place.

Tightening the rules governing the measurement of fuel consumption during tests, combined with measures capable of safeguarding on-road compliance, are essential to ensure that all stakeholders take effective action to meet the policy goals.