As different parts of the world gradually emerge from COVID-19 lockdown measures, many are opting to use their car instead of public transport in a bid to self-isolate, spurring a renewed demand for gasoline and providing some relief to the oil market, which experienced a historic crash some weeks ago.
While it remains too soon to predict whether this shift will persist, the current scenario, underlined by chief executive of French oil giant Total SA Patrick Pouyanne in recent reports, seems to be that “people are using more their cars because they are afraid to use public transportation.”
According to Bloomberg, morning traffic is currently higher than 2019 averages on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in Asia, while subway use is below average. Meanwhile, in the US, gasoline consumption is staging a recovery from its historic crash.
Apart from commuters’ preference for personal transportation, it is predicted that gasoline’s recovery may be further fuelled into the summer months, as people in countries like China and the US opt for road trips over air travel for their summer vacations.
This leads to climate questions, and what the post-lockdown revival of the car will mean for the environment.
Against the backdrop of a struggling economy and cheap gasoline, demand for electric vehicles is predicted to experience a downturn, though time will tell whether the scenario will be short-lived.