Has Shell become a shill for Tesla Motors? That’s the shocking conclusion of the market analysts Motley Fool, looking at the company’s new report that says, “By 2070, the passenger road market could be nearly oil-free.” An oil giant is saying, well, we’re going to get off oil.

Says The Fool, “It seems almost impossible that an oil company would make the claim that electric vehicles will be the predominant transportation fuel, but Royal Dutch Shell is making that very claim.”

The report in question is hardly tabloid fodder. It’s a dense, 48-page analysis with a bunch of possible scenarios resulting from political and demographic trends, in part driven by the move of human populations to cities. Cities are now using 66 percent of the world’s energy, and in the next 30 years that will go to 80 percent, the report said. Cars aren’t the best urban transportation — public transit works much better, and it’s likely to be electric, as will be the cars that zip around the inner city (see the BMW i3 “megacity” car).

The report has some other provocative lines, as part of various scenarios. Like the U.N. with its high, medium and low predictions, Shell is saying — if this happens, maybe this happens:

  • With reduced growth of travel demand, increased vehicle efficiency, and natural gas, electricity and hydrogen increasingly in use, liquid fuels for passenger road transport decline after a global peak in 2035.
  • Electricity generation becomes effectively zero-CO2 by 2060. By 2090, these carbon sinks offset the remaining impact of the difficult to de-carbonize transport and industrial sectors.
  • By the end of the century, it is possible that hydrogen has risen, phoenix-like, from its [relatively low] position at the beginning.
And here’s that first quote in context:
By 2070, the passenger road market could be nearly oil-free and towards the end of the century an extensive hydrogen infrastructure rollout displaces oil demand for long haul and heavy loads. By this time, electricity and hydrogen may dominate, and affordable, plug-in, hybrid hydrogen vehicles offer the ultimate in flexibility and efficiency.
Shell’s prognosticators are paid far more than me, but all these scenarios are eminently feasible. There’s a tendency to say that oil is what drives our planet, and always will be. But these same people said the car would never replace the horse. Here's a look at the Shell report on video:

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Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Shell says the end of the oil era is 2070
Shell's futurists spin scenarios of a worldwide turn to electric vehicles and hydrogen power.