Listed below are all documents and RMI.org site pages related to this topic.
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.
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.
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.
Powertrain efficiency from tank to wheels can't exceed 1.0, and is around 0.17 in a typical modern car or 0.35 in a good "full hybrid," but the energy needed to move the car can be reduced severalfold by making it lighter and more slippery.
Each 10% decrease in an auto’s aerodynamic drag can raise its fuel economy by very roughly 3%.
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.
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.
Carbon fiber production is more energy intensive than steel production (by mass). However, because revolutionary autos will require less body mass, there are significant opportunities for energy reduction in the auto manufacturing industry.
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.
Carbon fiber material supply is currently increasing by 9–10 million pounds per year. Demand began a 10-fold increase with Boeing’s and Airbus’s new carbon-intensive airplane orders in 2005.