A month ago, I was asked the question: “What would be the impact on petroleum usage if all cars (passenger vehicles) in the U.S. energy efficient, such as Toyota’s Prius?” This discussion is all about how to derive a sound answer to this question.
The Toyota Prius is a four-door hatchback gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle with a 1.8-liter gasoline engine that produces 98 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque that’s used in conjunction with two electric motors and a special planetary gear set that functions as a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Total system power is 134 hp. According to Toyota, the 2012 Prius (standard model) has an EPA rating of 51 City / 48 Hwy, combined fuel economy estimate of 50 mpg – “which is tops in the hybrid game.” It is a 5-passenger car with a curb weight of 3,042 lb. (1,380 kg).
The analysis took into consideration U.S. passenger cars only. It excluded the 101 million other highway vehicles registered in the U.S. The analysis was review by a reputable independent 3rd consultant in New Jersey. The consultant’s comments were:
“I’ve done similar research and calculations within the last few months. I’m not crazy about the assumption – ‘straight line’ allocation of gasoline consumption. Motorcycles, for example, probably consume a very small amount of gasoline per vehicle per year compare to passenger cars and SUV’s. Nonetheless, even if you toss in SUV’s and tweak the ‘straight line’ assumption you might only get to 15-20% savings; so on an order of magnitude basis I’m in agreement.”
The analysis goes as follows:
In closing, at first glance a 19% gross savings in petroleum consumption was considered somewhat low. If electric passenger cars, SUVs, motorcycles and other personal vehicles are taken into consideration, the savings becomes obviously much higher. The same goes with trucks and other vehicles, which at this time maybe under development for some level of hybridization and electrification. Also, this analysis includes U.S. only, as other countries possible do the same, global petroleum consumption will be cut even further.
One item not included in the analysis is the source of imported petroleum. In a previous discussion “Economists’ View – Fossil Fuels Pose Major Threats to the U.S. Economy,” I summarized an April 2011 EIA report on the makeup of U.S. oil imports by country of origin.
The report showed:
• 61.1% from Non OPEC countries
• 38.9% from OPEC Countries
• 22.6% from Canada
• 14.7% from all Persian Gulf countries
• 9.6% from Saudi Arabia
• 9.3% from Mexico
• 8.0% from Algeria
• 6.1% from Russia
• 4.5% from Iraq
• 4.4 from Colombia
• 4.0% from Algeria
From this perspective, a 19% reduction in petroleum consumption would potentially render all oil imports from Persian Gulf counties unnecessary, politics aside.
A final comment relates to the economic cost of replacing all 100% gasoline burning passenger vehicles to hybrids or even more expense EVs. Considering the purchase price of a Prius is about $25,000 (on the low side), the cost to replace 137 million passenger cars is about $3.4 trillion (less any trade deductions). By any measure, this is not a paltry number. Economics, financial stability and time will tell.
To the extent that all U.S. passenger cars would be powered by some level of electricity, one thing is certain that at the end of the day the environment and the citizens of the U.S. would become the ultimate beneficiaries. The question is what will the U.S. and the rest of the world do?
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author Dr. Barry Stevens, an accomplished business developer and entrepreneur in technology-driven enterprises. He is the founder of TBD America Inc., a technology business development group. In this role, he is responsible for leading technology driven enterprises through ideation, development and commercialization. To read his other discussions, please visit: http://barryonenergy.wordpress.com