Skip to comments.Peak oil? The trend to watch is peak car
Posted on 12/16/2013 5:36:57 AM PST by thackney
We all spend so much time looking at the dramatic changes on the supply side of the energy business that we risk overlooking the more gradual but equally important shifts on the demand side. To correct that its worth looking at some new work from the Transportation Research Institute picked up in the excellent Energy Collective blog.
The research shows that in the US by far the worlds largest consumer of oil transport sector demand is falling. This is not a temporary phenomenon driven by the economic downturn. This is a structural shift reflecting changes in life style and work patterns as well as gains in fuel efficiency.
And it is a trend which is continuing year by year. In summary peak car was in 2004 and since then Americans have owned fewer light duty vehicles, driven each of those vehicles less and consumed less fuel each year.
On each of these three measures the latest figures are lower than the figures for 1984 when the detailed survey work began. The study is part of a series of papers by Dr Michael Sivak all of which are worth reading.
What are the implications of this trend. First the work reinforces the prospect of total US oil consumption continuing to fall and advances the prospect of US self sufficiency as indigenous production of tight oil grows. Oil consumption is concentrated in transportation now and if that market is in decline it is bad news for refiners and all those with major downstream positions.
Then there are wider implications. Oil demand is also falling in Europe and Japan with long established trends which began well before the current recession. All that leaves the global oil market dependent on China and India. The Indian economy is faltering and the projections of an Indian economic miracle look very tarnished. China marches on but I have never believed that the Chinese want to allow themselves to become ever more dependent on oil imports.
Car numbers and oil use in both countries will grow but the projections of demand growth which suggest that China and India between them will be importing 10 or 12 mbd within 10 years begin to look like wishful thinking by the oil industry and the exporting countries. China is capable of limiting car numbers and enforcing ever higher fuel efficiency standards. India meanwhile will sets its own limits to growth because of weak Government, continued rural poverty and the ever simmering risk of ethnic conflict.
The combination of these factors will produce peak oil. Not a peak caused by any supply constraint global reserve numbers continue to grow year by year despite production of almost 90 million barrels a day but because demand will peak. When I wrote a few months ago that I thought global oil consumption would peak before 2020 at a level below 100 mbd several readers suggested, with different degrees of politeness that I was off my head. Maybe, but I will stick to my prediction.
As the detailed evidence is beginning to show the period of inexorable oil demand growth is coming to an end.
Do you realize that phrase has been used for about a century or so?
I moved from seattle to KY in 2011. I went from a five minute walking commute to a 61 mile driving commute. I went from spending $0 commute dollars per month to $400.
I suspect as more people migrate from the cities this sort of thing will happen more. But telecommuting will offset it.
Do you realize that phrase has been used for about a century or so?
The Graphene laced coapacitor as battery will probably be the next big one.
It could even give us electric airplanes and lighter than air craft.
I am not the biggest fan of the electrification of our auto's drivetrains, but.... I went to see a family friend recently @ a holiday celebration and our conversation got interesting.
Tri-athlete type Dad is an a techo-geek. I stumble upon his kid's fully suspended aluminum electric assisted bicycle, while assisting in the kitchen taking out the garbage. We ended up talking about these electric assisted bikes the rest of the night. Decent range, and the option to come back on battery power, if you think you muscles are better than they are :-0, and you go to far one way.
But tangent to this is commuters in dense areas are noticing these things. Between parking cost, commute times, etc. they are looking like an option on available bike trails ( yes this agenda 21 type stuff ) and they are reducing commute times dramatically for some, and the payback period even with the high cost of these things is less than a year.
One conclusion we came to is they would need to be an Enclosed Tadpole Recumbent to handle rain etc., but maybe 3 season vehicles in certain climates @ best. The bottom line is electric car might not make sense, but an electric assisted bike / motorcycle in an aerodynamic enclosure, maybe a new subset vehicle that makes more sense than many here on FR would be willing to admit. Especially if a small Photo-voltaic array would be it's charging station @ home....
The only of my daughter's friends who have cars are those whose parents bought them one or gave them a hand me down.
“Do you realize that phrase has been used for about a century or so?”
There is some new research which shows if you stick a battery up a bunnies butt it will keep going and going and going.
Have you seen the Vimeo video with PHD / candidate from UCLA and the one he made?
Here it is :-)...
And young people can’t afford cars, gas, insurance, as used cars have gotten comparatively more expensive.
Cash for clunkers destroyed a big chunk of used car inventory and used parts.
Do you realize that phrase has been used for about a century or so?
LOL, took the words out of my mouth.
It's a good thing electricity isn't generated by fossil fuels.
If there is "peak car" it is due to a relentless attack on it by government/environmental weenies and not due to cars' usefulness. Our road systems suck because states, localities and the feds have siphoned off $ to do other things. When you combine all that, it doesn't surprise me, but it doesn't mean that the internal combustion gas engine car isn't still by far the best option out there.
The parts got me the angriest. They could have salvaged the title and kept the car for parts. There are many places that would have purchased the cars for a good price. But no, leave it to Obama to destroy themm. That’s all he knows how to do is destroy. ( the economy ,health care,etc...
The oil cartel won’t let that happen.
I wonder how far a car could go on current technology if it were exempt from all government standards. What could be made with acceptable, consumer demands not gov demands, comfort and safety and still maximize electric battery technology?
That’s because young people can’t get work like they used.
BINGO!!! Yours is the first post I’ve seen that even mentions the chaos in the automobile market that CASH for CLUNKERS caused.
The cars “traded in” and destroyed were NOT clunkers, but in all too many cases, very good vehicles that had thousands of good miles left. THus, thousands upon thousands of excellent vehicles were POLITCIALLY destroyed, removing them from the long established orderly movement from auto factory to the parking lot in the sky.
People like myself, who never bought a NEW car found the very good Pre-Owned cars we wanted had vanished. Those few still coming onto the market sky-rocketed in price, so really older cars were nursed along until the very last 100 yards were driven.
I think the concept of “Peak Cars” should take into account all pertinent factors. But they won’t
Here’s Jay Leno talking about his 1909 Baker Electric car, range was about 100 miles...
I would say the bigger reason for the long term decline in heating fuel oil use is changes to new technology, including other heating sources as well as high efficiency burners.
The new requirements to switch to lower sulfur blends like what already happened to highway diesel is going to continue to raise the price and lower the long-term usuage.
Sulfur content of heating oil to be reduced in northeastern states
C4C was crony capitalism and a bad idea, but it only removed .27% of the vehicle population. Not very significant in my view.
Do you really think removing .27% of the vehicle population had that big of an effect?
But as I get significant solar and wind power at my farm, I can avoid those sources of additional cost.
I think the biggest underlying reason for “Peak Car” is declining standard of living.
As Dave Stockman’s book points out, the number of “breadwinner” jobs peaked in 1998 and has declined since.
What is the percentage compared to vehicle sales in the time period it ran?
Obviously most of this was time shifting vs actually creating new demand.
the effect seems to have been leveraged though. There was a shortage of used cars and prices skyrocket. Obama has small causes but the effects are devastating.
.........and we owe it ALL to the Federal Goober-mint and the LIV’s that installed them and keep them there!
Uh, if you are a Texan, and reading this, do not vote in 2014 for ANY incumbent!
Particularly John Anti Cruz Cornyn!
Rather significant percentage. If it was time shifting while being 70% of the market, there must have been a huge sales crash afterwards.
Yeah it was just another part of the “stimulus” and also another UAW payoff. It started up shortly after GM declared bk.
On a macro view it had essentially no effect.
I wonder how much a new economy car would cost without airbags, electrical knick knacks, power windows, traction control, abs. power everything. Just a bear bones starter vehicle like we had back in the day.
if you are a Texan, and reading this, do not vote in 2014 for ANY incumbent!
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We have a few House Represenatives worth keeping.
“A gallon of gasoline (roughly 4.5 liters) weighs approximately 6 pounds (less than 3 kilos), occupies a mere 230 cubic inches but contains the equivalent of 36 kWhs of electrical energy. For better or worse, this is the energy density standard to which the driving public has gotten accustomed over the years. Anything heavier, bulkier or with less energy density would be considered inferior, hence the main obstacle to popularity of PEVs.
Most current EVs use lithium-ion batteries that store no more than the equivalent of 16-24 kWh of energy in a single charge, short of the amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline. The Tesla, currently among the most powerful PEVs on the market, can store the equivalent of 53 kWh when fully charged. A subcompact car with a 10-gallon gas tank can store the energy equivalent of 7 Teslas, 15 Nissan Leafs or 23 Chevy Volts, according to industry sources.”
(BTW, a US gallon is 3.78 liters. The British gallon is 4.55 liters)
EEstore has been promising a car worthy super capacitor for years, physicists say you just can’t put that much energy in a capacitor. They may or may not be correct but what I’ve read about graphene super capacitors does not encourage me that they will have a battery replacement that will provide the range of tank full of gasoline. What they do offer is the ability to recharge quickly. I suppose I could get used to recharging every couple of hours when traveling but it would be a pain.
It would make a good companion to a fuel cell which is the probable direction of personal transportation.
It would be excellent for energy weapons. I wonder how congress will respond to that.
Try this just for fun...say you’ve got an older car that needs some parts (mine is an Expedition)....Google ‘Cash for clunkers 1997 Ford Expedition’. When I search for that, I get to watch some dealer pour a bottle of sand into the crankcase, and gleefully rev it up until the engine seizes - Martians would think we are a strange bunch. It makes you feel great to see a perfectly good rolling parts platform get condemned to the crusher.
Yep. And then when you take a trip of 100 miles, where you gonna re-charge? Except someplace driven by . . . gas, oil, etc. And there aren’t enough batteries made to power an 18 wheeler.
About 8 years ago I lived in CA, worked about 13 miles from home. There was a very good bikeway that went 90% of the way.
Commuted by bike for a couple years. Lost 40 pounds and 40 BP points. Took very little more time than the car, sometimes less, depending on traffic. Even figured out how to go grocery shopping, etc. on the bike. In one six-month period, drove the car <700 miles.
Then crashed the bike and broke my hip. LOL
Bikes are preferable, IMO, to cars in almost all ways: environmental, health, road wear, cost per mile, etc.
But they are inherently a very great deal more dangerous in accidents and fatalities per mile.
Still ride when I can, but have never been able to get back to the ideal situation I had in CA.
Yep. And then when you take a trip of 100 miles, where you gonna re-charge? Except someplace driven by . . . gas, oil, etc. And there arent enough batteries made to power an 18 wheeler.
What's the range at -40 F?
Go to Ol’ Mexico, you will still see the VW bug, not that much different than it was in 1965. The heaters still do not work. Not that they need heat very often south of the border.
The other thing here in the northeast is the return to heating with wood or pellets. Almost everyone that has an oil furnace around here has installed some type of heating source to reduce their consumption of heating oil. Outdoor furnaces, wood stoves and pellet stoves all are big sellers around here. It was especially a no brainer during the first Obama stimulus when there was a 33% tax credit up to $1500 on the installation of high efficiency wood stoves, pellet stoves and wood boilers/furnaces.
Coal furnaces have also come back here because of the low cost of anthracite washed pelletized coal. They also have the advantage of being able to store the fuel outside. It does not matter if it gets wet unlike wood pellets. It is wet inside the bag to reduce the dust factor when loading.
Another reason automobile fuel consumption is reducing is that so many people telecommute to work now. We all have friends now who can do their job over the internet at home.
Boy it is an ughknown, will they or won't they replace "the battery". If my wishes were fishes, these things are the breakthrough e have been waiting for, i.e. mega-range on a decent sized storage device that rivals gasoline. But I love the fact you get it that it isn't a battery, maybe something in-between, but like you ultra or super capacitor works for me (now). Tangent to this is all those electrons stored is one heck of a lot of power, and look how many cars have burnt up do to something going wrong with a battery and all that potential energy. Let us hope this graphene super capacitor is more "stable". It is ironic that gasoline IMHO is more stable than current batteries.
20 KWH of stored energy released quickly would be exciting, especially for the survivors.
Yeah, Ray, you bet. That and unicorn sightings are up as well.
Nothing in the technical literature or in the U.S. infrastructure indicates that this is going to happen anytime soon.
Will it happen at some point? Physically large ultra capacitors or hybrids are likely for photovoltaic cells fairly soon but electric cars will remain limited. Perhaps a real fuel cell might change things.