Fuel economy bigger threat to gasoline demand than electric cars: FGE

Fuel pumps are seen at a Pemex gas station in Mexico City, Mexico, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Increasing efficiency of fossil-fuel powered cars is a bigger threat to gasoline demand than electric cars, energy consultant FGE told the Platts refining summit in Brussels.

Despite headline-grabbing promises from countries in Europe and Asia to eventually force a switch away from fossil fuel vehicles, Cuneyt Kazokoglu, head of oil demand at FGE, said fuel efficiency in vehicle fleets worldwide is be a bigger threat to gasoline for now.

“It will come, but it will come because of fuel economy, not electrification,” Kazokoglu said of “peak” gasoline demand.

FGE forecasts that from 2016 to 2040, fuel economy gains will slash 11.3 million barrels per day (bpd) from global gasoline consumption, more than twice the 5.3 million bpd cut by the addition of hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.

The shift, Kazokoglu said, is concentrated on gasoline, as there is no alternative use for the fuel apart from the light vehicle fleet - mostly passenger cars.

While diesel cars will fall substantially as a share of the global passenger fleet, from 15 percent to roughly 8 percent by 2030, demand for distillates in air travel, heavy goods transport and shipping will buoy distillates consumption.

Gasoline demand, Kazokoglu said, will hit a ceiling more quickly.

“It will inevitably peak in 15 years or so,” Kazokoglu said.

Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Adrian Croft