Oil Majors Can No Longer Ignore The Electric Car Threat

Many carmakers, and not just Tesla, have been developing electric vehicles, betting on the expected continuous rise of battery-powered cars in the future. Now it’s not only carmakers that predict that EVs will make up a substantial part of new vehicle sales in a decade or two—oil majors are admitting it too.

France’s Total SA expects EVs to account for up to 30 percent of new car sales by 2030, which could lead to oil-based fuel demand peak in the 2030s, Total’s Chief Energy Economist Joel Couse said at Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference earlier this week.

Couse reckons that after 2030, fuel demand “will flatten out” and “maybe even decline”, in what Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, described as the “most aggressive” projection by an oil major about the rise of EVs.

Other oil majors have their projections about peak oil demand as well, ranging anywhere from as early as the next decade, to nowhere in sight. At the same time, analysts believe that EV sales will only rise, but the pace will greatly depend on incentives and government policies. Meanwhile, many carmakers are preparing for the EV surge and entering the battery-powered car market.

France’s Total sees that growth as potentially leading to peak oil-based fuel demand in the 2030s. Other majors also have ideas about the impact of EVs on global oil demand.

Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden said in March that oil demand could peak as early as in the next decade.

“We have to acknowledge that oil demand will peak, and it could already be in the next decade. It could happen. There are people who believe it will grow forever but I don’t subscribe to that,”

van Beurden told the CERAWeek energy forum, as quoted by The Telegraph.

BP, in its Energy Outlook 2017, said that an extra 100 million battery EVs could lower oil demand by around 1.4 million bpd. Still, the UK oil major sees oil demand peak in the mid-2040s, with many drivers to factor in, including global GDP growth, efficiency trends, and climate policy. According to BP, the penetration of the EVs will depend on how fast battery costs would continue to drop; the size and durability of government incentives; how conventional cars’ efficiency would improve; and how consumer preference towards EVs would shift.

Read more: Oilprice.com

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