A new survey of automakers, suppliers and industry pundits predicts that by 2020, gas is headed for $5 per gallon, fuel economy requirements will rise about 40 percent and alt-fuel vehicles will account for more than half of new-vehicle sales.
Not surprisingly, the survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute warns that automakers may not be moving fast enough to prepare for massive changes in the industry.
Among the prognostications by the auto experts:
* Clean diesel and hybrid vehicles will be the leading alternatives. Cars powered by gas engines will ignite through compression rather than a spark. Engines powered by alt-fuels will make up 42 percent of vehicles sold in North America in 2015 and 55 percent by 2020. These vehicles now comprise less than 2 percent of all sales.
* Truck CAFE standards will rise to 27 mpg in 2015 and 31 mpg in 2020. They are now pegged at 21.6 mpg.
* Car standards will increase to 33 mpg in 2015 and 38 mpg in 2020. They are now pegged at 27.5 mpg.
* Gas prices will spike to $4 per gallon by 2015 and $5 per gallon by 2020.