If more people are traveling by fewer vehicles, one might expect fuel demand to drop. But for now, shared-travel services are not really affecting fuel demand, said Schwartz.
For example, there are only about 10,000 Zipcars—a car-sharing service—in the United States, out of 250 million registered vehicles.
“We’re talking 0.00001% of all registered vehicles,” said Schwartz. Even Uber and Lyft’s fleets combined—about 250,000 vehicles—are still a fraction of a percentage of the overall vehicle fleet.
That said, if these services intensify vehicle usage, then hypothetically, fuel demand could actually increase.
“If you have the same amount of vehicle travel with fewer vehicles, it probably won’t do anything,” said Schwartz. “But if these ride-sharing services cause more trips to happen in private vehicles instead of public transit, that could have an impact on increasing fuel demand because private vehicle trips are happening that wouldn’t otherwise.”