A line of cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic, showcasing the transportation industry.

Globally, transportation accounts for about a quarter of energy consumption, roughly equal to the energy consumed by industry and buildings. Yet unlike these sectors, which can derive their energy from natural gas, renewable energy, and other diverse fuel sources, transportation largely relies on petroleum. As a result, transportation uses nearly 60 percent of the oil consumed globally. Without significant changes in policy or technology, global transportation-related emissions could nearly double in the coming decades, growing faster than any other end-use sector.

EPIC scholars are studying various policies related to the vehicle market. They are evaluating the financial and policy tools that can help make vehicles more efficient, saving drivers money on fuel, reducing oil use, and cutting carbon emissions. For example, policymakers could eliminate both size and type distinctions, establish a transparent trading market, and bring emissions testing under the direct supervision of regulators.

While it is vital to improve the efficiency of cars already on the road, new policy efforts have also focused on boosting electric vehicle ownership. However, EPIC scholars have found that households may not yet view EVs as a perfect substitute for their gasoline-powered cars. Their study finds that households drive their EVs roughly half as far as regulators’ estimate, and only half as far as people on average drive their gas-powered cars.