FAQs: Transport

How many cars will be on the planet in the future?

According to Energy Technology Perspectives 2012, over 2 billion vehicles are expected to be on the roads in 2050, an increase from approximately 800 million vehicles today.

How does the IEA work in the area of transport?

The IEA conducts a broad range of transport research and analysis, which focus on ways in which countries can improve energy efficiency in their transport sectors and shift to lower carbon fuels. This work involves analysing technologies and systems, which can be developed and adopted by countries to reduce dependence on oil and the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the transport sector. The IEA also works with economic analysis and scenarios of the potential evolution of the global transport system under different constraints, which are published in the annual World Energy Outlook and now-annual Energy Technology Perspectives series. Finally, the IEA brings together representatives – from part manufacturers to global energy companies – to discuss areas of mutual concern and interest.

What kind of cars will be sold in the future, assuming climate-change friendly policies are implemented?

Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 presents three scenarios (6DS/4DS/2DS), which make different assumptions about government policies and their implementation in the years ahead. The most ambitious of these scenarios assumes that countries will implement national pledges and stronger policies after 2020, including the near-universal removal of fossil-fuel consumption subsidies, in order to achieve the objective of limiting the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million of CO2 equivalent. This would limit global temperature increases to 2°C. To achieve this scenario, IEA analysis shows that 70% of global car sales will need to be of advanced vehicles by 2035. Advanced vehicles include hybrid (gasoline and diesel vehicles with an internally charging battery), electric (which are battery powered) and plug-in hybrid models (which uses two sources of power – most commonly gasoline, and batteries that can be charged from an electricity grid).

What is MoMo?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) Mobility Model is a comprehensive transport modelling tool aimed at the improvement of the analysis of all the aspects of mobility, building on:

  • the gathering of accurate data on the current and historical conditions of the transport sector;
  • the coherent use of the information collected;
  • the characterisation and the inclusion of a wide range of transportation technologies and practices.
  • Key outcomes of the modelling activity include a better understanding of the role of different transport modes with respect to energy consumption, emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), emission of pollutants, the utilisation of natural resources and their requirements for vehicle production and fuel supply.

The Mobility Model is continually developed through a close collaboration between a number of leading institutions in the field of transport and energy.

Mobility Model Background

The Mobility Model is maintained in an Excel format (with a migration to another modelling platform – Vensim – to be implemented soon). It can be used with a menu-driven interface or in a more detailed fashion. It covers historical data and projections in 5-year increments to 2050, for all world regions (divided into 29 regions and including 15 individual countries). It allows comparisons of multiple scenarios on the basis of various hypotheses defined by the user. Key parameters include Gross Domestic Product (GDP), population growth, vehicle technology characteristics affecting costs and fuel economies, fuel costs, the evolution of travel per vehicle (or the elasticities of travel with respect to fuel prices and personal income), vehicle and fuel market shares, and other factors.

It is an ideal tool for back-casting analysis (e.g. to identify how to reach specific targets in 2050), and especially to understand the changes required in transport for scenarios aimed at the reduction of GHGs.

The model contains a large amount of information (data) on technologies and fuel pathways, including a full evaluation of the life cycle GHG emissions for all major fuel options including Coal-to-Liquids, Gas-to-Liquids, conventional biofuels, advanced biofuels – including Biomass-to-Liquids – and several hydrogen production pathways.

The structure of the Mobility Model is based on the "ASIF" framework, making use of the Activity (passenger or freight travel, including vehicle travel and load factors), Structure (modal split), and energy Intensity (fuel consumption per unit km of vehicles, combined with load factors) to evaluate the total Fuel use and the other modelling outputs.

Given its development in an Excel environment, the Mobility Model is fully transparent: all calculations can be tracked back, avoiding the “black box” effect associated with some other modelling tools.

The model is suitable for handling regional and global issues. The analysis addresses 29 World regions, also giving details on a good number of specific countries, such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, Korea, China, India.

Each region is characterised on the basis of information collected and assembled in a detailed database that covers, for each road transport mode, the vehicle stock, the average vehicle travel, average load factors and fuel efficiency. Some modes (light duty vehicles, medium and heavy duty trucks) are addressed with more accuracy, integrating information on new vehicles registered and imported used vehicles, including their contribution to the evolution of all the parameters associated with the vehicle stock characterisation over time.

Information on road vehicle technologies and fuels characteristics now and in the future is also integrated in the model. Cost estimates are designed to account for the effect of technology learning, which is fully incorporated in the model for light duty vehicles, medium and heavy good vehicles. A module capable of accounting for learning in the fuel manufacturing sector, while also considering the variation of the main feedstock prices, is currently being developed.

The vehicle, travel and technology database used in the model constitute an important asset of the Mobility Model. They are available to all members of the Mobility Model Group and they are currently being used as inputs to most of the transport-related analysis required by the flagship long-term prospective IEA publications: the World Energy Outlook (since 2009) and the Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) book.

 Project History and Development

The origin of the IEA Mobility Model can be traced back to the Sustainable Mobility Project (SMP) of the World Business council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).Established in 2000 to consider how global mobility patterns might evolve in the period to 2030 and beyond, the SMP concentrated on mobility issues related to road transportation. In July 2004, the project released a comprehensive report on the topic, Mobility 2030: Meeting the Challenges to Sustainability. The global transport model underlying the analysis of the Mobility 2030 report (the SMP model) has been developed by the IEA and became the basis of the Mobility Model.

Since 2004, six of the companies that participated in the SMP (BP, Honda, Nissan, Statoil, Shell, and Toyota) agreed to continue to work with the IEA on the model, funding its development until today on a yearly basis. Since then, seven other partners joined the partnership.

The project members have access to regular updates and developments of the Mobility Model and the databases that the Agency has developed to feed it. To date, the collaboration developed around the Mobility Model worked effectively to foster a dialogue on matters relevant for transport (e.g. vehicle technologies), energy (e.g. fuel characteristics), the environment and climate change (e.g. well-to-wheel GHG emission factors), favouring the exchange of ideas and information and allowing the IEA to strengthen its knowledge base for its analysis and research.

Given the role of the Mobility Model in the context of the development of the Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) report, the contributions offered by the dialogue between the IEA and the members of the Mobility Modelling effort resulted in the opportunity to carry out detailed analyses of the light duty vehicle sector. Significant improvements on the road freight sector, now addressed in great detail in the model, will allow widening and deepening the focus of forthcoming IEA transport-related publications on medium and heavy trucks. Bus and rail modes have also been recently updated to cover the sector much more in-depth. Additional work is being carried out in the field shipping and air.

The participation in the Mobility Model Group has also been instrumental to involve the group members in the activities of the IEA Secretariat.

Related articles: 

How can drivers save gasoline?

Electric vehicles: are they a passing fad or here to stay?

Fuel saving gadgets for cars: are they worthwhile?