Talking Future Fuels with MIT Professor John Heywood (Part 2)

09.27.16 | Podcast | By:

In part 1 of the interview, Professor John Heywood and I discussed MIT’s On the Road in 2050 report and topics such as fuel economy. In part 2 of the interview, I asked him about gasoline octane and a number of other topics, including the future of electric vehicles and whether the RFS makes sense as a policy as opposed to a carbon or gas tax.

Raising Gasoline Octane Likely, But a Longer Timeline

The report recommended increasing octane in gasoline, and I asked him how likely this would happen and whether the refining industry might do this on its own as a way to keep market share against a burgeoning electric vehicle market. He responded in part:

It’s not galloping to the finishing line but at least it’s getting started and I think as everything gets tighter and we need all the possible improvements that make sense, this will get more seriously under the table. Now it’s not like you snap your fingers and you do this and in ten years it’s totally different. It’s got a… a longer impact time scale than 5 or 10 years.

“We Will See What Happens” with Electric Vehicles

And about electric vehicles, I asked him about a recent study from Bloomberg New Energy Finance that estimates that 35% of all new vehicle sales will either be battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 2040 and whether this kind of bullish, progressive view of the evolution of EVs was really warranted based on what was concluded in the report. He said in part:

There are in my view some inherent limitations to the rapid spread of pure electric vehicles, that are not being acknowledged or worked on hard enough to guarantee solutions at this point in time. So, I think this is a very uncertain strategic question. Somewhere you gotta say, ‘We will see what happens.’

Listen to the podcast and learn more about why Professor Heywood thinks the road to EVs might be more difficult than some proponents and policymakers have been advocating.