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U.S. oil combustion: present and projected

The U.S. burns 13 million barrels of oil a day for transportation. Most of this oil powers cars and light trucks. By 2050, the U.S. is expected to burn upwards of 17 million barrels of oil a day for transportation alone.


Automotive and oil industry profits

Automakers' profit margin typically hangs around 1% (in the U.S., 0.4%), far below the oil industry’s. The 2007–2008 global financial crisis sharply cut sales of new vehicles and the financial stability of the U.S. Big 3 auto manufacturers (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler).


Energy flow through a typical internal combustion engine drivetrain

This chart shows why less than 0.5% of the energy in a typical modern auto’s fuel actually moves the driver, and only 5–6% moves the auto. An auto's weight is responsible for more than two-thirds of the energy needed to move it. All told, 86% of the fuel energy never reaches the wheels.


Vehicle retail price and curb weight, new U.S. car sales, model year 2010

Lightweight autos needn’t cost more. The MY 2010 U.S. new-car fleet shows little or no correlation between lighter weight and higher prices.


Sales-weighted curb mass and density of new autos sold in U.S., 1986–2009

Autos in the U.S. have increased in weight by 16% since 1986 to an average of 3,533 lb. in 2009. Cars have also gotten denser, rising 14%—from 28 to 32 lb per interior cubic foot. Yet since 1986, U.S. adults got only 8% heavier.


Horsepower to overcome aerodynamic drag

Each 10% decrease in an auto’s aerodynamic drag can raise its fuel economy by very roughly 3%.


Transportation sector job quantity impact

In the transportation sector, Reinventing Fire affects jobs in oil exploration and production, auto manufacturing, auto parts and auto repair, and hydrogen and biofuels production. The net effect on jobs from these changes is relatively small.


Drag coefficient and retail price, new U.S. car sales model year 2010

As with lightweight autos, more aerodynamic autos needn’t cost more. A survey of currently available autos shows that lower drag vehicles, as a whole, cost no more than less aerodynamic ones.


Tire price and rolling resistance coefficient

It costs little or no more to purchase tires with dramatically improved rolling resistance. Going from the least to most efficient tires improves fuel economy by over 8%.


Basic characteristics of Revolutionary Plus autos

Our Revolutionary auto class is based on RMI’s extensive work on the Hypercar. We use a cost model for superefficient battery-electric and fuel cell autos for both cars and light trucks. These vehicles, described in this table, are designed to compete with EIA’s average automobile in price and all driver attributes.


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