The petrol engine will eventually become obsolete and be replaced by the electric engine. It seems obvious, unless someone invents a way to make petrol engines as clean as electric engines. And even then, it would just delay the inevitable.
Not only are electric engines cleaner and quieter, they could accommodate a larger number of sensors and internet connections which would all help in the driving and monitoring of the car. This will be increasingly important as cars become more autonomous.
While many people are talking about driverless cars and wonder if they would ever allow themselves to be driven by one, the technology used in driverless cars are already present in many new models of road cars on sale now.
The only difference is that the technology is called advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, and its functions include:
- autonomous parking;
- collision avoidance;
- cruise control; and
- vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications systems.
There’s a lot more that can be added to that list, not just of features that have already been invented, but also of things no one has yet even thought of.
The electric engine would be able to provide the ecosystem for new inventions to flourish, while the internal combustion engine – having polluted the atmosphere for more than a century – has probably already been innovated to its limit.
There will always be adherents to the petrol engine, not least in the US, where the entire car culture seems built around noisy, gas-guzzling motors which hark back to a perceived great American past.
Now, with President-elect threatening to make America great again, and hit German automakers with 35 per cent import tariffs, it will be interesting to see how the auto industry develops in the country which until recently was the world’s largest car market.
Now, China, with 1.4 billion people, is the world’s biggest buyer and producer of cars. And they don’t have a past which involves noisy and dirty cars, so the idea of buying an electric one may not bring upon the average consumer the same peer pressure to not be so uncool as it might in other parts of the world.
China recently had to declare something like a state of emergency when its capital city Beijing became impossible to navigate because of a dense and dark cloud of pollution which completely enveloped the city.
It may have been like the old “pea-soupers” that older people talk about from their memories of the 1950s – only much worse.
Beijing closed all its schools, ordered thousands of vehicles off the roads, and told residents to stay indoors, according to the Guardian. Communist Chinese authorities also declared a “red alert”.
It’s debatable whether or not this kind of fog was entirely created by car exhaust fumes or or a combination of emitters of pollution, but with more than 20 million people, Beijing has a heck of a lot of cars.
The country’s national government has brought in more stringent regulations to make cars cleaner, something which is also happening in Europe, where people like Jacques Aschenbroich, chief executive of auto supplier Valeo, are saying: “Car electrification is an irreversible trend.”
Valeo has expanded sales by 50 per cent in five years with a focus on electric, hybrid, connected and self-driving cars, according to Business Insider.
So it’s not just those hippies still having nightmares about pea-soupers, it’s also the forward-thinking moneymen who are jumping on the electric-engine-driven bandwagon, and in the process probably leaving the petrol engine to become obsolete, eventually.