Gas 2.0 has a post on a speech by Shell CEO Peter Voser on the electric car market (I think he's being overly optimistic that a significant proportion of cars will still be running on petrol in 2050) - Even Shell’s CEO Expects Electric Cars to Dominate.
Speaking at a conference in Santa Barbara, CA, Shell CEO Peter Voser said that by 2050 he fully expects 40% of all vehicles in the world to be some kind of electric car. Shell has calculated that by 2050 there will be 2 billion cars in the world, up from today’s 1 billion.
Voser, contrary to what you might think (but clearly calculated to represent a marketably more caring Shell) was quoted in a Reuters article as remarking that over the next 40 years the world will also need to develop more low-carbon fuels, more efficient engines, and more hybrid vehicles to account for the remaining 1.2 billion vehicles that are not electric in 2050.
In order to ensure that Shell doesn’t become a dinosaur in the future economy, Voser said that they have been investing heavily–25% of their research budget–in alternative energy such as wind, solar and biofuels.
Clearly, with 1.2 billion cars still running on combustion in 2050, Big Oil doesn’t feel like they have much to be worried about in terms of lowered demand for oil. They may not see much of an increased demand in 2050, but they still envision that they will have plenty of people to sell their oil to. What remains to be seen is if there will be any oil left to sell and if we’ve been able to avoid the worst effects of climate change so that a market still exists.