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What might the vehicle fleet in a few years?

Gregory Launay - Last update: January 21th, 2013


My purpose here is not to tell you exactly how to be the car of tomorrow, but rather to make projections on the trend and the average size of the fleet.

This little exercise can allow us to estimate in a fictional future would be a continuation of this, oil consumption and emissions of greenhouse gas emissions related to the automobile and to be able to confront the constraints.


Some remarks on the market today ...

To understand the market trends it is useful to start by looking at how it looks today. We just cut it into two distinct groups:

  • the first group consists of countries that are already well equipped in automobiles and are therefore replacement markets, mainly OECD countries: EU, USA, Japan, Canada, etc..

  • the second group includes the so-called "emerging" that are in various stages of equipment, we speak mainly BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, China ... but also include Mexico, Argentina, Algeria, South Africa, Turkey, Iran, etc..

Rate equipment vehicles (LCVs) in relation to GDP per capita - Source: ACEA & World Bank (2006, 2007, 2008), compiled by the author

This graph shows, for different countries, the rate of equipment in automobiles reduced the gross domestic product per capita. The first group is located in the upper right (high GDP per capita, rate of equipment exceeds 600 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants), the second at the bottom left.

One way to draw on this graph a "S-curve" which leaves a country team thought massively from when the GDP per capita exceeds $ 10,000. This is exactly what is happening to the so-called emerging countries, it is clear to them that we must turn to think about the evolution of the global market.

While these emerging countries represent only 10% to 15% of the world, they weigh already today more than 25% of sales.

Top ten sales markets vehicles (PC + LCV) in 2007 - Source: ICCT, 2008

This graph shows, for example the weight of China. While the park is comparable to that of France (about 40 million vehicles in 2008), sales are close to those of the United States (China has surpassed the United States throughout the year 2009).

It is this massive equipment major emerging countries which predict strong growth ahead of the market and global oil consumption related to transportation.

Prospects for changes in global oil demand by sectors Source: CCFA, 2006

In these projections and the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers, the transport sector is seen as the main cause of the growth in oil demand.

Prospects for changes in global oil demand by sector - Source: International Energy Agency, 2004

This graph of the International Energy Agency shows nearly the same thing. The distinction between OECD countries and "other" shows that it is emerging that will be responsible for the majority and increased demand.


Demographics, other important

Beyond the equipment available in emerging markets, the changing demographics in the OECD countries may also impact so strong the world fleet.

Prospects of the population by 2050 - Source: United Nations, 2009

While the numbers of people in Japan and Western Europe are seeing stabilization in decline (fleets concerned may therefore decrease ...), North America will keep dynamic demographics.

A constant rate of equipment, the simple passage of the U.S. population of 300 to 400 million people may be jumping the global fleet of 80 million vehicles.

What would be the trend of the global car fleet?

These findings being made, try first simple estimate of the evolution of the fleet. Begin by looking at the evolution of the global population.

Prospects of the population by 2050 - Source: INED, 2009

Projections INED give us about 7.5 billion people by 2020 and 9 billion by 2050.

Let now a trend projection rate equipment worldwide.

Trend of equipment global trend extension - Source: Speculation author

This gives us about 170 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in 2020 and 230 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in 2050.

These two factors combined (equipment rate * population) we suggests a global fleet of 1.3 billion cars by 2020 and 2 billion vehicles in 2050.


What is the trend in unit consumption?

Regulations may enable us to anticipate the average consumption of new vehicles sold, but this does not change the consumption of the entire fleet.

Not only does the park has a turnover time (greater than 15 years) but also its structure will change (development of emerging demographic trends and precisely).

Still trying estimated from trends regulatory European and American markets.

Evolution of consumption of global fleet by 2020 - Author's estimate

As this graph shows, these regulatory trends are very similar: red arrows blue for France and for the United States.

Assuming that the decrease in unit emissions of the entire fleet will follow the same trend, resulting in a figure of 170 grams of CO2 per km in 2020 (described by the green arrow from the global average unit emissions current of 225 grams of CO2 per kilometer).

Here is a first rough estimate. It seems rather optimistic for several reasons.

Firstly it assumes that regulations will be adopted as binding and respected by all major markets ... which is far from done.

In the European Union, for example (which is the continent most advanced on the subject ...) only concrete short-term goals have actually been adopted (130 grams of CO2 per kilometer in 2012). The commitment for 2020 is currently and will remain only revisit. But recent history shows us that when rediscussing is rather flexible; regulations for 2012 for example, has many adjustments that will actually give emissions of 140 grams nearest km CO2 by 2015 ...

Even the recent past in the European Union also shows us that it is not clear that regulations are met. The final objective of the European Union 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2008 (which, it is true, was not regulatory) for example has not been reached.

Then, as I already mentioned, changing demographics may play against the current. The countries with the most successful automotive markets in CO2 emissions (EU and Japan) rather demographics down while the United States, who face bad student, may contribute significantly to the increase the park.

Finally, we must add one last point size. Most manufacturers anticipate a compliance in 2020 with a significant deployment of electrified vehicles (pure electric or plug-in hybrid). A vehicle running on electricity included in the current regulations as having zero CO2 emissions gold is not the case. The current regulation has indeed only direct CO2 emissions of the vehicle, that is to say, issued during the rolling phase.

Accordingly, a regulatory compliance to 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer may correspond to actual CO2 emissions are much higher. Regulations will necessarily change on this point.

Once toured these remarks, keep this estimate of 170 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020.

To get an idea of what it could be after 2020 ... it is that crystal ball! The constraints described by the IPCC as the world's fleet would be an average of 40 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2050.

Projected consumption of global fleet by 2020 and 2050 - Delirium of the author

The question remains whether such a goal for 2050 is technically feasible.