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US transportation energy use

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy consumption including energy demand from light duty vehicles (LDVs), aircraft, marine vessels, rail and other sources, reached 13.8 million bpd in 2012 (28% of all energy consumption in the US. This is down from a peak of 14.6 million bpd in 2007.

In its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO14) Reference case, the EIA projected that LDV energy consumption would make up 63% of all transportation consumption in 2012, but predicted that this share would drop to 51% in 2040. Heavy duty vehicle (HDV) energy consumption is expected to rise from 18% in 2012 to 28% of the total 13.1 million bpd transportation energy consumption in 2040.

The declining share of LDV transportation energy use over time is considered to be the result of improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency.

The breakdown in energy use by vehicle type is as follows:


Light duty vehicles include passenger and fleet cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8500 lbs or less. LDV energy consumption can be influenced by vehicle fuel economy or through passenger behaviour and vehicle use. LDV fuel efficiency, the number of vehicles on the road, and the vehicle mix between cars and light duty trucks are key factors that determine fuel consumption. Driving behaviour, distance travelled, and driver response to fuel price and vehicle price also influence energy consumption by LDVs.


HDVs include commercial vehicles (utility van, delivery truck .etc.), buses, and freight trucks with a GVWR of more than 8500 lbs. HDV consumption can be affected by truck and bus efficiency, weight of freight haul, driving behaviour, and vehicle technologies, including aerodynamics, and other factors.


The air mode consists of three types of aircraft: regional, narrow body and wide body jets. Energy consumption from the air mode can be affected by aircraft technology and efficiency, passenger and freight load factors, including aerodynamics, and other factors.


The marine mode consists of recreational boating, domestic shipping, and international shipping. Marine energy consumption can be affected by the marine vessel technology and efficiency, freight and passenger load factors, volume and type of freight moves, and distance travelled.


The rail mode includes both passenger rail and freight rail. Rail energy consumption can be affected by rail engine technology and efficiency, freight and passenger load factors, and volume and type of freight moved by rail.

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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