For immediate release: December 19, 2001
Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989

Nearly 9 Million More Vehicles in California
By 2020, Says Energy Commission
Sacramento - By the year 2020, California is expected to be home to 45 million people and more than 31.5 million motor vehicles up substantially from the 35 million people driving 22.8 million vehicles in the State in 2000.

Californians, who used 14.2 billion gallons of gasoline a year in 2000, will consume as much as 19.6 billion gallons a year by 2020. Diesel demand will rise from 2.6 billion gallons a year in 2000, to 4.2 billion gallons a year in 2020.

These projections are part of a just-released staff report from the California Energy Commission entitled Base Case Forecast of California Transportation Energy Demand. The document, prepared by the Energy Commission for the State Legislature, describes the most likely outlook for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel consumption in the years 2010 and 2020 if present trends continue, with no improvement in fuel economy for cars and trucks.

The report, required by Assembly Bill 2076, is the first product in a joint project by the Energy Commission and the Air Resources Board to recommend strategies to the Governor and the Legislature on ways to cut petroleum dependence in California.

The Base Case Forecast documents the State's historical demand for transportation fuel. The study extends present energy trends 10 years and 20 years into the future and identifies key factors now emerging that could affect future demand for gasoline. It also produces an alternative scenario for the State's energy consumption, depending on the advancement of fuel efficiency in cars and trucks, and the acceptance in the marketplace of hybrid-electric vehicles.

Highlights of the report's findings include:

* From 2000 to 2020, California's population will grow at about 1.4 percent a year. The number of miles traveled, however, will grow by 1.8 percent a year, meaning Californians will drive more and more miles each year.
* Today's average per-mile-cost of gasoline is less than one-half of what it was in 1980. That's because, since 1980, the real cost of gasoline has dropped 40 percent while overall fuel economy has nearly doubled.
* Fleet-average fuel economy, increasing since 1973, has leveled off. The trend is predicted to continue: between now and 2020, fuel economy will not improve significantly as consumers continue to purchase less-fuel-efficient vehicles like sport utility vehicles, vans and pickups. By 2020, such light trucks are expected to represent 44 percent of the vehicle fleet, up from 39 percent in 2000.
* If more fuel-efficient vehicles - including "hybrids" - enter the marketplace in sufficient numbers, they could cut gasoline usage in California by approximately 500 million gallons in 2010, and more than 900 million gallons by 2020 under the alternative scenerio.
* California will continue to be a major market for automobiles. In 2000 alone, Californians purchased 1,126,000 new cars and 965,000 new light trucks.

The new report, Base Case Forecast of California Transportation Energy Demand now is available on the Commission's Web Site at