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Page added on February 27, 2018

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What if every car sold in the world was an electric vehicle?

Alternative Energy

Big Oil is finally contemplating the unthinkable, and until recently what was also unimaginable for them.

What if every car solar across the globe was an electric vehicle? What would that do to their trillion-dollar business model?

Well, they’ve looked at it. They’ve crunched the numbers. But they are not telling.

At least that is the sense you get BP’s latest Energy Outlook, now a major annual event that gives an insight into how quickly Big Oil is prepared to concede that the energy transition will occur.

Because of who they are, and what’s at stake, you can reliably assume that the predicted transition would never be too quick to scare off their investors.  And that holds true in this latest edition.

Still, the latest BP Energy Outlook ponders this very question: What if – in 2040 – internal combustion engines were banned across the world and every car was electric?

It’s a scenario that is a decade late from some analysts, such as Stanford University’s Tony Seba, but the fact that it is being considered at all tells you why BP is already starting to roll out EV charging stations across its petrol station network  in the UK.

What did BP find with a zero-ICE (internal combustion engine) scenario? Well, to the relief of their shareholders, not much.

BP says that oil demand would be affected, and total oil consumption would fall by more than half to 8  million barrels of oil per day from 18mb/d – a loss of only 10 per cent of total worldwide oil demand.

But here’s the thing. BP only considered the impact up until the ban, which is why that green line in that top graph doesn’t go down much.

It is hanging on to the fact that if a ban is imposed in 2040, then up until that point, at least one third of the fleet would still be petrol or diesel.

And the impact would surely be felt after the ban. At least they conceded that there would be such a thing as peak oil demand, even if it is seen to arrive two decades later than most others.

But here’s another important point. BP also did not consider was the electrification of other transport either, some of which, like trucks, – hello Tesla Semi – is likely to occur much more quickly because the economics, particularly for fleet operators, are so overwhelming.

Like so many of these scenarios, from other Big Oil companies, to major coal corporations and the International Energy Agency, these forecasts are designed so as not to frighten the horses.


BP’s base scenario, now called Evolving Transition (ET) is – like so many from interests that represent or have close ties to the fossil fuels industry – based around the assumption that the world does little to reduce emissions.

Indeed, in BP’s ET scenario, overall emissions rise 10 per cent by 2040. And for that reason, they are unacceptable.

BP entertains a couple of other scenarios, an FT (fast transition) and an EFT (extra fast transition). What is fascinating, however, is the changes that BP is making to its forecasts.

Over the last few years, it has significantly upgraded its estimates for EVs, for wind and solar, and downgraded its assumptions on oil (only slightly) and coal (quite a lot).

It even concedes Stanford Uni’s Seba’s projections that much of the change in the future of road transportation would be driven by autonomous driving and shared vehicles.

This is Seba’s central thesis, see our story Death spiral for cars: By 2030, you probably won’t own one. His suggestion that most people may not own their own car horrified Trump’s America, you can read the comments to the article).

BP sees the trend (see the graph above), but expects it (read, wants it) to be slower than suggested by Seba.

Carbon Brief did an interesting analysis, pointing out that the main scenario in BP Energy Outlook shows renewables rising four-fold to 2,000 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) by 2035. This is an upwards revision of around 400Mtoe compared to last year’s main forecast.

The projections also show, for the first time, global oil demand peaking by 2040. And it projects coal will peak before 2030, an even earlier projection than it gave last year. These graphs – above and below – shows how the BP estimates have evolved since 2011. The red line is the latest.

reneweconomy.com.au



12 Comments on "What if every car sold in the world was an electric vehicle?"

  1. rockman on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 10:31 am 

    And an even worse “what if” possibility for the petroleum industry: what if they discover a method to convert salt water into gasoline? LOL. Here’s a more reasonable fantasy IMHO: what if instead of 1.5 million EV’s sold in 2016 (compared to the 84 million ICE’s) 15 million were sold. At least then they would be starting off with 15% of the global market instead of the 1.8% they did have.

    At this point I would be more concerned for future ICE owners having access to sufficient/affordable volumes of motor fuels then the petroleum industry having a sufficient number of motor fuel buyers.

  2. Antius on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 10:52 am 

    A more probable scenario is what if half of all cars sold are gasoline-electric plug-in hybrids, with only 20% of the average fuel consumption of a pure ICE vehicle of the same size. This might actually happen by 2030. Pure electric vehicles are far less likely to achieve market penetration, because they are nowhere near as affordable. The intellectual craze over the imminent takeover of all-electric vehicles doesn’t have much basis in real life. Back in the early 2000s, there was a similar fad about the imminent takeover of hydrogen as the next thing that would make the ICE obsolete. Here we are 15 years later and surprise surprise, it never happened.

  3. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 11:27 am 

    Right Antius. And with some economic incentive / push, your 2030 scenario for no pure ICE’s being sold is realistic. Especially if you allow efficient HEV’s in the mix. (A 50 mpg modern HEV is still a hell of a lot better than a 15 to 20 mpg giant truck/SUV gas hog, for example).

    There’s really no excuse ( or sanity) for not at least pushing for that. (Today, at a Toyota or Honda dealership for example, it’s hard to even find a HEV or PHEV to look at, much less one with features I might want to buy. It should be the opposite — it should be as easy or easier than buying an ICE in the models where HEV’s are offered.)

    And who knows. If that starts happening, then perhaps in 2025 or so, depending on how BEV’s are progressing in terms of volume and cost, then pushing harder to up the BEV mix, and perhaps eliminate HEV’s (requiring at least PHEV’s) at some point.

    But for heaven’s sake, we should at least start doing SOMETHING beyond promising it will all get better in future decades via the Paris accords, while we basially do nothing.

  4. Anonymous on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 1:08 pm 

    Rockman, here’s another crazy what if:

    What if they discovered a bunch of natural gas back in the old worn out Appalachian basin. Enough so that PA/WV/OH combined grew to having more production than TX. Enough so that prices crashed into the $2s. Enough so that dedicated gas drilling in the GOM shut down. Enough so that they stopped building LNG import terminals and started building LNG export terminals (and more pipes to Mexico…and even more pipes to Ontario!) Enough so that US consumption volume grew 50% over the course of a decade and STILL we moved from net importing to net exporting as a country.

    I know it’s a crazy idea, but what if that happened? What would it do to people targeting $8/mmbtu formations?

    Anyhow…we know this could never happen. David Hughes and Art Berman and TOD and ASPO tell us this would be crazy.

  5. Kenz300 on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 1:18 pm 

    Electric 🙂
    No stopping at gas stations, no oil changes, less over all maintenance, no emissions.
    Leave home in the morning with a full charge.
    Electric cars, electric trucks, electric buses, electric trolleys, electric scooters, electric bikes, electric lawn mowers, electric snow blowers and electric tools.
    The worlds is changing and the rate of change is speeding up.
    The future is electric. Fossil fuels are the past.

  6. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 27th Feb 2018 11:09 pm 

    Mr Rockman,
    I like your plan to turn saltwater into
    gasoline. Let’s setup a corporate
    headquarters, file with the SEC for an IPO.

  7. Anonymouse1 on Wed, 28th Feb 2018 4:33 am 

    narrativeman has bigger things in mind.

    What if he discovers a way to convert his usual bullshit into even bigger piles of bullshit. Here’s a more reasonable fantasy IMHO: what if instead of 1.5 million pounds of narrativemans 2016 bullshit (compared to the 84 million pounds produced) he produced 15 million pounds. At least then he would be starting off with 15% of the global market of bullshit instead of the .00000000008% he has now.

  8. Kat C on Thu, 1st Mar 2018 4:10 am 

    What if every car was electric. Then the power we need to supply via the grid would become much larger. Then to replace fossil fuels supplying the grid would need ever more windmills and solar panels and the rare earth minerals needed to make them. Then the aging grid would be overstretched and the upgrading it already needs would become mandatory.
    What if instead we set up a program for mass transit and everyone scrapped their cars?
    What if we are out of time and it doesn’t matter anyway?

  9. kanute on Thu, 1st Mar 2018 1:33 pm 

    I’m on my 2nd electric vehicle. Works great if you own a home, with a garage, with a home charger. The public charging stations, and even the paid ones now are almost impossible to get on. A guy in my building gets to work at 5am just to camp on one of the chargers in the parking garage for about 6 hours. I’ve seen a lot of people trade them in once they figure out they can’t charge them. I even seen near fist fights over a charging station. You won’t see anywhere near that kind of penetration.

  10. dave thompson on Thu, 1st Mar 2018 3:14 pm 

    Gasoline comes out of the refining process along with all of the other products. I do not see a future of all EV’s. What will be done with the gasoline?

  11. Kenz300 on Fri, 2nd Mar 2018 11:02 am 

    The world would be a lot quieter with electric vehicles. Much less noise pollution.

    Battery storage is a game changer making wind and solar base line power.
    Clean energy production with solar panels / tiles and battery storage.
    Clean energy consumption with electric vehicles.  No emissions. A new solar roof, battery storage, an electric car charger and an electric vehicle.
    Solar panels are now being projected to have a much longer life than just a few years ago.

  12. Jan Galkowski on Thu, 8th Mar 2018 8:21 pm 

    “What if they discovered a bunch of natural gas back in the old worn out Appalachian basin. Enough so that PA/WV/OH combined grew to having more production than TX. Enough so that prices crashed into the $2s. Enough so that dedicated gas drilling in the GOM shut down. Enough so that they stopped building LNG import terminals and started building LNG export terminals (and more pipes to Mexico…and even more pipes to Ontario!) Enough so that US consumption volume grew 50% over the course of a decade and STILL we moved from net importing to net exporting as a country.”

    Trouble is, if one does the numbers based upon BTUs available from natural gas, for transportation, we REALLY don’t have that much natural gas. An analysis I saw, and one I independently did, showed that if all transport was powered by U.S.-based natural gas, both from known reserves, and estimated, we’d be out of natural gas in less than 20 years.

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