With electric and autonomous vehicles on the way, are we in the eighth inning of the oil era?

, Canada

A charging plug sits attached to a Tesla Model S automobile, produced by Tesla Motors Inc., at the Paris Motor Show.

For my generation turning 16 meant a race to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the coveted driver’s license. That paper represented freedom, social status and, hopefully, responsibility.

However, I am increasingly hearing that the teenagers of today are in no such rush. Driving and car ownership is no longer a priority for many of North America’s youth. Schroders Asset Management produced a paper last year validating that observation. In 1983 over 80 per cent of 18 year olds had a driving license by 2010 that number had fallen below 60 per cent.

There are several trends that explain why. First, there has been a drift away from suburbs and towards inner city living. Second, there are innovative new services such as car sharing and Uber that make owning a car less of a necessity. These, combined with increased fuel efficiency in automobiles, have already moderated demand growth for refined petroleum product in North America.

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