Electric vehicles may not have the stamina to outsell gasoline engines. Photo: Paul Aiken/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

The Energy Information Administration's latest set of long-term projections is kind of a sad trombone when it comes to the growth of electric vehicles in the U.S.

Where it stands: The "reference case" in the EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2019 projects that EVs will grow but internal combustion engines will remain "dominant" through at least mid-century.

  • They see gasoline-powered and to a much lesser extent "flex fuel" (gasoline-high ethanol) vehicles accounting for 75% of the light-duty sales in 2050.

The other side: Contrast their outlook with the consultancy BloombergNEF.

  • They see battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids swelling to 64% of the U.S. market in 2040, with BEV sales around 10.3 million, which is several times what EIA projects, their analysts told me.
  • Yes, BNEF has long been the optimistic end of the spectrum, but a number of major forecasters have been boosting their estimates, too.

Where it stands: The EIA has long faced criticism for low-balling the growth of renewables, and there's reason to think they're too conservative when it comes to EVs too.

  • Consider Rice University analyst Daniel Cohan, who questions the EIA's cost comparisons for gasoline-powered versus electric-powered vehicles.

But, but, but: To be fair, it's an exercise and the EIA takes some pains to show that there are all kinds of variables and the future, like, hasn't even happened yet.

  • The reference case, for instance, assumes that laws and policies remain unchanged, and needless to say U.S. policy isn't static.

Go deeper: Harvard energy expert Jesse Jenkins discussed the topic via this Twitter thread over the weekend.

  • It's a helpful look at the uses and limitations of long-term models and his view that the EIA's methods don't adequately consider technology and economic changes.

Go deeper

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Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane and bring dangerous storm surge conditions to parts of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Federal Declaration of Emergency in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday, ahead of the storm's expected arrival south of New Orleans.

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The Trump campaign website briefly went down and its "About" page was modified after hackers attacked the site Tuesday evening.

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