Even petrol companies are now talking about how fuel use and driving are falling. The Herald reports:
Z Energy says petrol consumption is falling in relation to increasing availability of broadband.
While more fuel-efficient vehicles and rising petrol prices have also contributed to consumption falling from its 2007 peak, Z’s chief executive, Mike Bennetts, said demand was more sensitive to broadband connectivity than these traditional factors.
“People are doing less discretionary motoring and that may be about the price but what we have found is quite a strong link between broadband connections and fuel consumption,” he said.
“People are doing online shopping and Skyping granny rather than making the fortnightly visit.”
A 1 per cent improvement in broadband connectivity is estimated to cause a drop of 200 million litres a year in national fuel demand, more than the impact of GDP growth, population, fleet turnover, vehicle efficiency and the petrol price.
This is very much in line with some of the things we’ve been saying for a while. The world is changing and the Internet in particular is having an impact on how much and often people travel. This is especially the case amongst young people. This also matches what we’ve seen in other transport metrics with the number Vehicle Kilometres Travelled per capita (VKT) falling back to below its 2001 level.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) publish regular information about fuel consumption and this is shown in the graph below by fuel type.
Z are also predicting that petrol consumption will continue to fall
Fuel consumption peaked at 4.2 billion barrels a year in 2007 but is estimated by Z and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to fall to 3.6 billion barrels within the next 10 years.
Z has between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of fuel sales, and data compiled for an investor day shows light vehicle travel per person has fallen 6 per cent since 2005.
However, diesel use is increasing and while historically pegged to GDP growth is now surpassing that.
Undoubtedly there has been some shift from petrol to diesel which has contributed to the faster than GDP growth.
Of course one thing that isn’t mentioned in the article but will likely be having a small but growing impact will be that of the growth in PT in Auckland which has tended to outstrip population growth in recent years. About the only thing certain in transport these days is that we can no longer just assume things will just be a continuation of past trends.