Battery Powered Vehicles and Demand for Oil

Battery Powered Vehicles and Demand for Oil

In the previous article, we showed that Peak Oil Demand was a bogus depiction of the future and that mankind will continue to use large quantities of oil for many decades into the future.

This article will address the second issue raised in the previous article.

2)  Is it possible for Battery Powered Vehicles (BEVs) to eliminate the need for oil for light vehicles, i.e., cars and pickup trucks? 

Assuming the issue of autonomous vehicles is ignored, the answer to this question depends largely on the efficiency of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, in terms of miles per gallon of fuel used.

The greater the efficiency of ICE vehicles, the fewer BEVs will be needed to offset the amount of fuel used by them.

In 2016, all light vehicles in the United States, on average, used one gallon of fuel for every 26 miles traveled.

The mix of vehicles in the United States may be different from the rest of the world, with US drivers tending to favor larger vehicles that get fewer miles per gallon of fuel. 

However, the computer program used for this article used 26 mpg which was the average for the United States in 2016, for its initial projections. It then varied the miles per gallon to see how many BEVs would be needed to offset the fuel used by the annual increase in the number of light vehicles worldwide, assuming a 4% growth rate for vehicles, for every year through 2040.

Each year the average fuel efficiency in mpg would be applied to every vehicle in the worldwide fleet.

Two conditions were examined:

  1. Fuel efficiency remained constant at 26 mpg for all light vehicles in the world, for each year from 2016 through 2040.
  • In this scenario, 53 million BEVs would have to be sold by 2023, five years from now, to offset the oil required by the increased number of light vehicles.

The EPA has proposed that all light vehicles, i.e., cars and light trucks, built in the US achieve a fuel efficiency of 36.9 mpg in model year 2020, and for all model years thereafter.

It will require approximately 12 years for every vehicle in operation to have been built to this EPA requirement, assuming all nations use this or a roughly similar requirement, so its effect across vehicles worldwide wouldn’t be felt until at least 2031.

  1. This scenario used a fuel efficiency of 36.9 mpg for all light vehicles worldwide in 2031.
  • In this scenario, 26 million BEVs would have to be sold by 2023 to offset the oil required by the increased number of light vehicles.

In arriving at any conclusion, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration:

  • It’s important to distinguish between BEVs and PHEVs, and also from hybrids. Many media articles bunch BEVs and PHEVs together as “plug-ins” when accounting for the number of “electric vehicles” or when forecasting growth. Nearly every article on the internet refers to “plug-ins” or “electric vehicles” without distinguishing whether they are BEVs, PHEVs, a combination of both, or even include Hybrids. Hybrids shouldn’t be included because they run entirely on gasoline or diesel fuel.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are problematic because they run on both gasoline and battery power. No one has any real data as to how much fuel PHEVs use. PHEVs can contribute to reducing the amount of oil that’s consumed, but it’s not possible to reach a realistic estimate of their effect on oil consumption.
  • Government intervention has supported the sale of BEVs, but sales have fallen whenever subsidies have been removed.
  • Projections by oil companies, such as ExxonMobile, refer to “light duty vehicles” which include motorcycles and mopeds and other types of small vehicles.
  • Another variable is China, and their use of golf cart-sized BEVs. The WSJ reported on this development in its September 22, issue, Minuscule electric vehicles are kings of the road. 

Are these really light vehicles or replacements for motorbikes? Also, are these “minuscule EVs” subject to crash tests and required to use air-bags?

From Lichi website. Two-seat electric minicar. Maximum speed 30 mph.

The estimates used for this article assumes BEVs are full-size light vehicles capable of carrying four or more full-sized passengers. 

But, media reports may not distinguish between golf cart size vehicles and four passenger light vehicles, and this could cause additional confusion.


    1. With continued growth in light vehicle sales at the rate of 4% per year worldwide, and with fuel efficiency worldwide remaining at 26 mpg, it’s extremely unlikely that cumulative sales of BEVs will reach 56 million in 2023.
    2. However, with a fuel efficiency of 37 mpg beginning in 2019, and continuing in 2020 and every year thereafter, it may be possible to reach cumulative sales of 26 million BEVs in 2023.
  • The sale of BEVs will have to reach 400,000 this year, i.e., 2018, and then double in each of every year thereafter to reach cumulative sales of 26 million in 2023.
  • Independently, Moody’s has forecast that global BEV sales will represent 8% of total light vehicle sales in 2020, which would be around 6.7 million.

The range of estimates is so broad, it’s fair to say the jury is still out as to whether sufficient BEVs can be sold by 2023 to eliminate growth in the amount of oil used for light vehicles.

Nevertheless, we can be certain Peak Oil Demand will not occur in 2023. See, Peak Oil Demand is Bogus and Meaningless 

But on what basis do DNV (an international registration and classification company) and Shell predict Peak Demand in 2023? 

The DNV forecast is discussed in the next article.

. . .


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4 Replies to “Battery Powered Vehicles and Demand for Oil”

  1. All of this is without any consideration of how the electricity for the PEV’S is produced . (Which you have mentioned before). All of this is nothing more than a shell game . Misdirect the rubes while while they get their pockets fleeced

    • Thanks for your comment.
      I’m hoping that my articles provide enough facts that people will be able to distinguish between facts and conjecture so they don’t have their pockets picked.
      The problem I have is getting enough people to know about my articles.

  2. I stumbled across your column a couple of years ago and they have given me the facts to have a discussion with people who disagree with me . I share to fb frequently . Thanks , I appreciate the information . Steve