February 20, 2015

Is it too late to cope with Peak Oil?


Well, personal transportation accounts for the majority of oil consumption.

Personal transportation is easily done with EVs - a Chevy Volt costs less to own and operate than the average US passenger vehicle, and gets 200MPG. A Nissan Leaf is the lowest cost vehicle on the road.

EVs can be ramped up pretty quickly - They're 3-4% of sales right now (including hybrids).  Production volume could be doubled essentially overnight, and doubled every two years thereafter.  In 8 years you could be at 80% of new vehicles, and in another 5 years they'd account for 50% of vehicle miles driven. In another 6 years they'd account for 75% (vehicles less than 6 years old account for 50% of VMT).  Ethanol accounts for about 10% of passenger transportation fuel, so a fleet of Chevy Volts could be powered with no oil at all.

There's a pretty straightforward path forward, if we needed a short term fix to get us through a period of fast depletion, or another oil shock while we were transitioning to EVs. The US could reduce passenger fuel consumption by 50% essentially overnight by raising the average passengers per vehicle from 1.2 to 2.4.  Look at Uber, look at smartphones for connecting with people.  There are very, very few destinations in the US that no one else is going to.  On almost any road, look around: there are other people on the road, going in the same direction.

With an ad hoc smartphone based system, you could find someone going in your direction almost anywhere. And, even with old-fashioned employer-based systems, about 10% of Americans carpool to work right now.

Carpooling - the horror.

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