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Why it matters: 3 potential futures for electrified cars

Data: Equinor; Chart: Chris Canipe

A new analysis by the oil-and-gas giant Equinor provides stark evidence of the diverging potential futures of electrified cars and trucks.

Why it matters: It's a technology likely needed to eventually decarbonize transportation in a manner consistent with avoiding high amounts of global warming.

The latest: The chart above is one small part of Equinor's annual Energy Perspectives report out Thursday, a wide-ranging look at what global energy systems — electricity, transport, industry and more — might look like in the future.Equinor (formerly Statoil) breaks their outlook to 2050 into three umbrella categories, which are . . .

  • Reform: A world where continued market and tech trends drive changes the energy mix, with policy playing a role but not in the driver's seat.
  • Renewal: A scenario where aggressive policy creates a much faster transition that's consistent with holding the global temperature rise below 2°C.
  • Rivalry: A future where geopolitical tensions and conflict abound, climate policy takes a backseat and the energy mix remains very carbon-heavy.

What stands out about EVs: In the chart above, they dominate annual light-duty sales by mid-century in the wider "renewal" scenario, while growth is more constrained in the other two, especially "rivalry."

By the numbers: In the report's data appendix, Equinor forecasts that in 2050, oil needed for passenger cars and light trucks will be just 2.2 million barrels per day in the "renewal" scenario, compared with 24.2 mbd in "rivalry" and 16.2 mbd in "reform."

The intrigue: The report is the latest example of how analysts — from energy companies, the International Energy Agency, OPEC, consultancies and elsewhere — are all over the place when it comes to how much EVs will take hold in decades ahead.

  • Bloomberg New Energy Finance compares the conflicting analyses here.
  • BP's annual energy outlook in February also offered some comparisons, showing forecasts for EVs on the road worldwide in 2040 include: BP with 320 million, BNEF with over 500 million, OPEC with 235 million, and ExxonMobil with 180 million.
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