March 29, 2019
By Simon Flowers
The transition in cars has begun. The future of light vehicles is electric; in time, perhaps autonomous (AEVs). Today, there are about 5 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road globally, less than 0.5% of the 1.2 billion light vehicle fleet. That will change as EVs become competitive without subsidies in the 2020s, building an ever-rising share of the global car fleet that itself is set to grow by 50%.
The range of possible outcomes is wide. We forecast 300 million EVs and AEVs on the road by 2040 in our base caseone in six light vehicles and rising. Disruption by EVs is a key factor behind our prediction that oil demand peaks in the mid-2030s.
But the disruption wont be quick, and the rise of the EV wont be linear. What suits the automakers and consumer preference will all affect the pace of penetration. Linda Giesecke, Research Director, Macro Oils, points to unexpected trends unfolding in the big five car markets that will account for 90% of EV sales.
First, the U.S which will be home to almost a quarter of EVs by 2040. The Tesla Model 3 led to EV sales jumping by 80% in 2018. There are now 1 million EVs in the market, just 0.4% of the fleet. Yet the rate of growth is set to slow this year as tax credits for some models end.
The bigger story is soaring demand for gasoline-fueled SUVs. Sales of SUVs were 8 million in 2018, almost half of U.S. auto salesup from a third in 2015although a shift is underway from the biggest SUVs to more fuel-efficient cross-over or mid-sized SUVs. We still expect U.S. oil demand to fall 5% by 2025. But SUVs are impairing progress in fuel efficiency and making it tougher for automakers to meet the Environmental Protection Agencys greenhouse gas emissions standard.
Second, China, now the worlds biggest EV market. Sales almost doubled in 2018 to 1 million units, against the trendoverall car sales fell 4% to 24 million units as consumer finances dried up. EV sales should be buoyant again this year ahead of subsidy cuts in 2020. We expect Chinas EV stock to reach over 90 million units by 2040, 20% of Chinas total car fleet.
But SUVs are in the ascendancy with the growing Chinese middle class. A sideline a decade ago with 7% of the market, SUVs captured 42% in 2018 with sales of 10 million units. As in the U.S., the weighting of SUVs in the mix is bullish for oil consumption, which we expect to grow by 25% through 2025.
Third, India, where two-wheelers are the hot segment. The EV stock is minuscule today and reaches just 13 million in 2040. Sales of motor bikes and scooters in contrast are booming, up 19% in 2018 as Indias youth and rural dwellers take to the road. One in seven Indians now owns a two-wheeler, more than own cars. The car fleet, too, has much growth potential as living standards improve. We expect fuel demand from the two combined to grow by 0.4 million b/d, over 50%, through 2025.
Fourth, Europe, fast becoming a scrap heap for diesel cars. Amid concerns over the effect of fumes on health, policy and consumer sentiment have turned anti-diesel. Only one in three cars sold in 2018 was diesel, down from 1:1 three years ago. The law of unintended consequences? Diesel engines are more efficient; the renaissance of gasoline cars will make achieving the EUs 2021 fuel-efficiency target much harder. Even so, we expect fuel demand in Europe to fall by 10% to 2025, with diesel declining at a faster rate.
Last, Japantransitioning fastest and with only limited help from EVs. Improving fuel efficiency is the goal and its working; the 2020 target is already in the bag. Consumers lust for hybrid EVs (HEVs) and mini-gasoline fueled internal combustion engine cars (660cc or smaller) is like no other market. HEVs are now mainstream, making up one-quarter of the 4 million cars sold in 2018.
These trends show that the road to decarbonization in the automotive sector will have many twists and turns. ICE vehicles will hang on for some time yet.
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