New Vehicle Technologies Face Uphill Climb

Due to the size of the existing light-duty fleet in the U.S. considerable time is needed for any new technology to reach market saturation.

Market saturation of E25 capable vehicles is a long way off.

In fact, it would take close to a decade for a new vehicle technology to reach market saturation, according to a new report released by the Fuels Institute.

The report, “New Technology Adoption Curves: A Case Study on Delivering E25-Capable Vehicles to Market,” demonstrates that it would be highly unlikely for a new vehicle powertrain optimized to operate on a gasoline blend containing 25% ethanol (E25) to achieve 20% market share by 2025, due directly to fleet turnover rates.

“To signal the fuels market to make a new fuel product broadly available, there must be a realistic expectation that demand will be sufficient to support the retail and distribution investments,” explained Fuels Institute Executive Director John Eichberger. “For this project, we selected a 20% share of vehicles on the ground to represent that signal. The study found that it would likely take many years, combined with very strong sales of these new vehicles in their first years on the market, to achieve this level of market penetration.”

The study, prepared by Navigant Research, calculates how many of these new vehicles must be sold each year to reach 20% fleet share by 2025 if the vehicles were first offered for sale in 2018, 2020 or 2022. The report shows, in each scenario, that vehicle sales in the first and subsequent years must be significant to achieve the model’s established targets. First-year sales of E25-capable vehicles would have to total 629,000 if introduced in 2018, 1.3 million in 2020 and 3.8 million in 2022. The ramp up in sales in subsequent years required to achieve 20% market share is equally significant.

“Because the existing light-duty fleet in the United States is so large, it will take a considerable amount of time for any new technology to reach market saturation,” Eichberger continued. “The report does not consider any elements other than sales and fleet turnover. It does not evaluate automaker production schedules, regulatory approval requirements or any other market introduction steps, each of which could add complexity and further delay market penetration. This study is simply a calculation of fleet turnover.”

“While we analyze E25-capable vehicles in this case study, the findings are applicable beyond E25,” Eichberger said. “It does not matter what technology or powertrain is being contemplated, as every change to the fleet will take time to affect the market.”

“New Technology Adoption Curves: A Case Study on Delivering E25-Capable Vehicles to Market” can be downloaded for free at




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