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Diesel Expected to Remain Dominant Fuel Type Through 2040

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September 18, 2018—Commercial vehicles will continue to run on diesel fuel for the foreseeable future, according to new research from business information provider IHS Markit.

Sixty-six percent of new medium and heavy commercial vehicles sold in the U.S. will be fueled by diesel (diesel and diesel hybrid) in 2040, compared to nearly 80 percent today, per findings released today from the IHS Markit multi-client study, Reinventing the Truck

The study was completed between January and July of 2018 and includes research from the automotive, economics and country risk, energy and chemicals teams at IHS Markit.

Diesel is expected to remain the dominant fuel type globally through 2040 due to increases in fuel economy which will play a major role in keeping diesel competitive versus alternative powertrains, the study says. Range and load capacity requirements from long-haul, on-highway trucking will keep diesel relevant in the short- and long-term, while other propulsion types will grow in popularity as technology continues to advance.

While diesel does remain dominant, the report and forecast indicate a 15 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for battery electric vehicles in the U.S. during the timeframe, as adoption rates increase in medium-duty trucks. This growth is driven from an increase in urban trucking ton-km and advancements in battery technology allowing for more mainstream adoption – particularly among class 4 and 5 trucks with lighter payloads.

The study also highlights a view on total cost of ownership (TCO), with modeling suggesting BEV struggles in competitiveness compared to diesel and natural gas (CNG and LNG). Additionally, the weight requirements of the battery pack cause limitations on the hauling capacity of the truck. Currently, to achieve equivalent range compared to a diesel class-8 truck the subsequent battery pack weight required would result in a large cargo capacity penalty.

Due to the initial cost disadvantage of these alternative powertrains, larger truck fleets will be the first to adopt alternative powertrain technologies. Smaller fleets and owner-operators encompass a large share of the market, leading to the slower adoption curve seen in the study. 

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