A lot of gearheads are going to hate this but the first obituary for the internal combustion engine has been written. The staid and legendary British journal The Economist ran an editorial entitled; “The death of the internal combustion engine,” on August, 12, 2017.
“The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long,” the newspaper’s editorial staff wrote. “The first death rattles of the internal combustion engine are already reverberating around the world—and many of the consequences will be welcome.”
Whether this piece will make history or be regarded as a premature joke remains to be seen. Yet some of the recent events cited as justification for The Economist’s prediction lend credence to the argument.
The Auto Industry Goes Electric
Several countries; including the United Kingdom, France, India, Norway and Germany (the birthplace of the internal combustion engine), have announced or are mulling plans to kill diesel and petrol powered vehicles. More telling several major automakers including Maserati – part of (Fiat-Chrysler NYSE: FCAU), BMW, Jaguar, Mini, Volkswagen, Daimler, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and General Motors have announced ambitious electric plans.
More tellingly the US semi-truck manufacturer PACCAR (NYSE: PCAR); parent of Kenworth, is planning to build electric drivetrains for heavy vehicles. Even Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne; who was averse to electric, has thrown in the towel and embraced electric vehicles as the future.
“My aversion to electrification is based on pure cost issues,” Sergio Marchionne said at the announcement of Maseratti’s electric plans. “What has made it mandatory is the fate of diesel.”
Marchionne is one of several car industry figures that believe the diesel scandal at Volkswagen will make electrification inevitable. Popular outrage in Europe is fueling efforts to ban diesels because of air pollution.
The latest country to join in the anti-internal combustion crusade is Germany where the government is planning to ban “clean diesel” cars in the future, The Autocar reported. During an interview, Chancellor Angela Merkel called British and French plans to ban sales internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040 “the right approach.”
Toyota Announces Fast-Charging Electric
Another electric vehicle skeptic; Toyota (NYSE: TM), is planning to release an electric vehicle with a fast charging new battery in 2022, Reuters reported.
The new vehicle will use solid state batteries instead of lithium so it will charge in just a few minutes, the Japanese newspaper; Chunichi Shimbun claimed. The new car is supposed to hit the road by 2022.
If this report is true it might mark a real game changer because most electric vehicles such as the Tesla rely upon lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion can be dangerous because it explodes; it’s also heavy and expensive.
The report marks an about face by Toyota, which was investing heavily in hydrogen powered fuel cells. Toyota is also planning to begin mass producing an electric sport utility vehicle; that uses lithium-ion batteries, in China in 2019. That vehicle will supposedly be based upon the C-HR SUV.
It looks as if the end of the internal combustion engine as a vehicle power train might be in sight. If it is the world will be a very different place, and a lot of oil companies will go bankrupt. Therefore The Economist is accurately forecasting the future with its predictions.