Alternative Fuel Vehicles to Gain Traction, Diesel Remains Dominant

Vehicles running on alternative fuels will accelerate over the next decade, but diesel fuel- and gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to dominate market share, the Fuels Institute said in its new report, "Tomorrow's Vehicles: What Will We Drive in 2023?" 

The Fuels Institute, of which NATSO is a member, is a non-profit, research-oriented think-tank dedicated to evaluating market issues related to consumer vehicles and the fuels that power them.

The report found that for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, diesel-powered vehicles will prevail, representing at least 94 percent of the vehicle fleet in 2023. For light-duty vehicles, gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to dominate the market, although overall market share could decline from 93 percent in 2012 to as low as 82 percent of vehicle inventories in 2023. Diesel-powered vehicles will potentially comprise nearly 7 percent of the market while flexible-fuel vehicles capable of using E85 could grow to more than 9 percent of the market.

"On the surface, it may not seem that significant change is occurring, because gasoline and diesel fuel-powered vehicles will continue to dominate the vehicle fleet in 2023, but alternatives are gaining traction," said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute.  "Consumers appear to be more open to alternatives than ever before and vehicle manufacturers are offering a wider variety."

Given that there are more than 250 million vehicles on the road today, it will take years of strong sales of alternative fuel vehicles to reshape the country's vehicle fleet. In addition, a variety of developments — including cost reductions for alternative-fuel vehicles, conveniently available refueling options, expanded vehicle range and overall consumer familiarity and confidence with new fueling options — will need to occur before alternative-fueled vehicles can capture significant market share, the report said.

The Fuels Institute is comprised of a diverse set of stakeholders including fuels retailers, fuels producers and refiners, alternative and renewable fuels producers, automobile manufacturers, environmental advocates and consumer organizations. The Institute commissions research projects that address the issues identified by the affected stakeholders to inform both business owners considering long-term investment decisions and policymakers considering legislation and regulations affecting the market.

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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