Listed below are all documents and RMI.org site pages related to this topic.
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.
Crash-safety risk with lightweight materials in automotive applications is only perceived, not supported by evidence. Lighter autos are actually safer than heavier ones the same size.
By 2050, 50% of the U.S. vehicle fleet will be electrified —more than 150 million cars and light trucks in all. With an average battery pack size of 18.4 kWh, this would amount to nearly 2,900 GWh of energy storage capacity. The addition of such a large and potentially unpredictable load could present problems for grid management if electric vehicle charging is not handled effectively.
Short sea shipping could save heavy trucks’ fuel by shifting ton-miles onto ships and waterborne highways that travel up and down our coasts and interior waterways. This would reverse durable trends toward truck freight.
Trains can move four times more ton-miles per gallon than trucks, typically at lower cost. Rail intermodal systems, where trains move shipments over medium to long distances and trucks move goods to final destinations, could save upwards of 25% of heavy truck fuel by 2050—perhaps even 60–80%.
Coal currently dominates U.S. rail shipments. If rail intermodal is to expand across the country, trains will need to free up capacity by shipping less coal. This potential is presented in the Renew
cases within Reinventing Fire’s electricity sector.
Compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) hold great promise over the near and medium-term, especially for buses, medium duty vehicles, centrally fueled fleets, and even class 8 heavy trucks.
Transitioning to a more efficient transportation system by 2050 will cost, all told, $2 trillion in 2010 present value, but will save $5.8 trillion. This includes the cost of building the distribution infrastructure needed to support a fleet of autos running on a mix of electricity and hydrogen, less avoided investments in domestic oil supply.