Fact #59: April 16, 1998
Vehicle Efficiency and Fuel Substitution Show Greater Promise than VMT Reduction Efforts
The figure below compares potential fuel savings from fuel economy improvements, fuel substitution, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction measures. It shows that many VMT reduction goals yield insignificant fuel savings when compared to fuel economy improvement or fuel substitution goals. For example, doubling mass transit usage or doubling the carpool rate would save less than 0.3 MBPD in 2010 and 2020. By comparison, achieving the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) 10% fuel substitution goal would save 0.7 MBPD in 2010 and 0.8 MBPD in 2020. Achieving the 30% fuel substitution goal would save three times as much oil. There are similar oil savings potential with improving vehicle efficiency. By doubling (2X) the fuel economy of today's vehicles, the United Stateswould could reduce oil use by 1.6 MBPD in 2010 (assuming 50% of vehicles were 2X vehicles) and 4.0 MBPD in 2020 (assuming 100% of vehicles were 2X vehicles). Tripling fuel economy (3X) instead of doubling fuel economy, increases oil savings to 2.1 MBPD in 2010 and 5.1 MBPD in 2020.
Source: "Factors That Affect VMT Growth" by Vincent Schaper, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Philip Patterson, U.S. Department of Energy, February 12, 1998.