The vehicle and fuel options discussed in this report generally are more expensive and/or less convenient for consumers than those that are available now. The societal benefits they provide (in particular, lower oil consumption and GHG emissions) will not, by themselves, be sufficient to ensure rapid penetration of the new technologies into the market. Therefore strong and effective policies will be necessary to meet the goals of this study. By “strong public policies,” the committee means options such as steadily increasing fuel standards beyond those scheduled for 2025, measures to substantially limit the net GHG emissions associated with the production and consumption of LDV fuels, and large-scale support for electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles to help them overcome their high initial cost and other consumer concerns. It also may be necessary to have policies that ensure that the fuels required by alternative powertrains are readily available.
Although the committee is generally skeptical of the value of the government picking winners and losers, the goal of drastically reducing oil use inherently entails a premise of picking a loser (oil) and developing (and perhaps promoting) winners among a set of vehicles and fuel resources.
In turn, implementation of such policies is likely to depend on a strong national imperative to reduce oil use and GHG emissions. The committee has not studied such an imperative but notes that, given the length of time needed to make major changes in the nation’s light-duty vehicle fleet, additional policies will be needed soon to meet the goals.
EIA (Energy Information Administration). 2011. Annual Energy Review 2010. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2012. Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks:1990-2010. Available at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/ghgemissions/US-GHG-Inventory-2012-Main-Text.pdf.