Though often cast in the past as a villain in attempts to improve fuel economy, a new report suggests the internal combustion engine (ICE) will continue to play a leading role in powering our automobiles.
The 2-year study was by the National Petroleum Council at the request of Secretary of Energy David Chu. The 63-page summary covers subjects from potential battery advances to infrastructure, but one point that comes through is that the ICE will continue...at least until 2050.
We've already seen major improvements in real world ICE fuel economy. Just two examples: On a recent freeway drive to Jay Leno's Big Dog Garage in a Mazda3 with SkyActiv we went 43 miles at an average 63 mph while getting 45 mpg. How about a 4191-lb BMW 640i Gran Coupe with its 315-bhp turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 managing 35 mpg on a 15-mile 70-mph steady-state run and 21.6 mpg over 100 miles of mixed driving with no attempt to maximize mileage?
The study promises more to come, stating, "Many technologies in varying stages of development can provide up to 90% fuel economy improvement in liquid ICE LD (light-duty) vehicles relative to 2010 vehicles." Not surprisingly it then adds, "The primary obstacle to high volume application of these technologies is cost."
Other advances will include plug-in hybrids, the greater use of natural gas and lighter weight vehicles. As for electric vehicles, "A breakthrough beyond those expected for Lithium-ion batteries is necessary to increase the driving range of a BEV so that it can be a substitute for a conventional vehicle."
The report also recommends against government legislating technology and having, "...market dynamics drive commercialization."
You can read the draft report summary .
Let us know what you think. ICE engines? Natural gas? Electric cars? Hybrids? How about you diesel fans? Yea or nay?
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