Skip to main content

Mitigation of Emissions and Energy Consumption due to Light-Duty Vehicle Size Increases


Gohlke, David; Kelly, Jarod; Stephens, Thomas; Wu, Xinyi; Zhou, Yan


Analysts need to consider the shift of light-duty vehicle sales from cars to light trucks to accurately project fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and consumer spending. We find that energy consumed by on-road light-duty vehicles in the United States can vary by 10% by changing assumptions regarding the sales mix. Scenarios aligned with third-party forecasts, assuming a greater sales proportion of light trucks and fewer cars, yield petroleum consumption 38% higher than forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with greenhouse gas emissions 57% higher and a 49% increase in consumer spending on vehicles and fuel. This incremental energy consumption can be offset by additional technologies for these vehicles. If most sedans were phased out in favor of larger sport utility vehicles, we find a sales share of 30% battery electric vehicles or 39% hybrid electric vehicles would equal the emissions of the EIA Reference Case.