FOTW #1012, January 15, 2018: On-Road Vehicles Are Responsible for Three-Fourths of Transportation Energy Use

January 15, 2018

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The transportation sector used about 27.8 quadrillion Btu (quads) of energy in 2016 with 76% of that used by vehicles on the nation’s roads. Light vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, pickups, vans and sport utility vehicles, used the most energy, accounting for 55% of the total. Medium and heavy trucks and buses accounted for 21% of the transportation sector’s energy use. The nonhighway sectors – air, water, pipeline, and rail – used 4.6 quads (16%) while the off-highway sector energy use was 2.1 quads (8%). Estimates indicate that 19% to 86% of the off-highway sector energy use can be attributed to fluid power, or mobile hydraulics on equipment such as excavators, loaders, backhoes, lifts, tractors and harvesters. Energy used for fluid power in off-highway transportation is being studied for opportunities to improve efficiencies.

Graph showing transporation enegy use in 2016. Light, medium, and heavy vehicles accounted for three-fourths of the energy usage.

Notes: The light vehicle category includes cars, motorcycles, pickups, vans, and sport utility vehicles. The medium/heavy truck category includes buses. Off-highway category includes agricultural equipment, airport ground equipment, construction and mining equipment, industrial equipment, logging equipment, railroad maintenance equipment, and recreational equipment such as all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Estimating Energy Consumption of Mobile Fluid Power in the United States, NREL/TP-5400-70240, November 2017, Figures 2 and 4.

Fact #1012 Dataset

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