Recommendations of the Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions

Fuel economy

Improvements in the average fuel consumption of light-duty vehicles have slowed in recent years, significantly below the rate of annual improvement needed to stay on track with global climate goals.

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Key findings

Factors influencing passenger transport energy use, 2015-2018


Energy use in transport continues to grow, despite efficiency improvements

In transport, despite improvements in vehicle efficiency, energy use continues to grow. Amongst other factors, sales of new, more efficient vehicles have slowed, consumers prefer larger cars, and typical vehicle occupancy rates have fallen.

Average fuel consumption of new light-duty vehicles sold, 2005-17, and SDS trajectory to 2030


Fuel economy standards under real-world driving conditions must become significantly more stringent

Global average fuel consumption of new cars sold in 2017 improved only 0.7% year-on-year, slowing from the average 2005-16 improvement rate of 1.85% per year. To get on track with the SDS, which is aligned with the 2030 GFEI targets, annual improvements of 3.7% are needed. It is vital that standards become significantly more stringent and that vehicles comply with them in real-world driving conditions. Ambitious but achievable CO2 standards passed by the European Union and stricter standards in China inspire confidence, and rapid EV adoption will also help achieve efficiency goals.
Our work

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) – a partnership of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Transport Forum of the OECD (ITF), the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis, and the FIA Foundation – works to secure real improvements in fuel economy and the maximum deployment of existing fuel economy technologies in vehicles across the world.

Created in 1990, the AFC TCP seeks to make a significant contribution to address the opportunities and barriers to fuel cell commercialisation by fostering the development of fuel cell technologies and their application on an international basis, and conveying key messages to policy makers and the wider community as appropriate.

Created in 1979, the AMT TCP focuses on materials critical to fuel efficiency improvement for current and future transportation technologies. The AMT TCP conducts co-operative research activities on friction reduction, waste heat recovery, and lightweighting of vehicles. The TCP work programme includes the development of standard test methods, testing, demonstration and design guidelines.

The mission of the AMF TCP is to advance the understanding and appreciation of the potential of advanced motor fuels towards transport sustainability. This is achieved by providing sound information and technology assessments designed to facilitate informed and science-based decisions regarding advanced motor fuels at all levels of decision-making.

The Combustion TCP provides a forum for interdisciplinary exchange and enables international collaborative research to advance the understanding of combustion processes to: accelerate the development of combustion technologies that demonstrate reduced fuel consumption and have lower pollutant emissions in transportation, power generation, industry and buildings, and; generate, compile and disseminate independent information, expertise and knowledge related to combustion for the research community, industry, policy makers and society.