According to Edmunds.com, gasoline engine’s staying power
isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Gasoline’s talents and versatility make the internal combustion engine a
juggernaut that cannot be matched by any other power source,” says
Edmunds.com Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh. “Gasoline is cheap,
abundant and packs more energy into a given volume than anything short
of nuclear materials. It’s so capable that if it didn’t exist, we’d have
to invent it.”
Edmunds.com’s assessment throws cold water on the hopes that electric
vehicles will make deep cuts into the market for internal combustion
engines (ICE) in the coming years. Today, electric vehicles make up less
than 0.09 percent of new car sales, and studies suggest that by 2040
all-electric vehicles are expected to comprise less than one percent of
sales, according to Edmunds’ research.
Kavanagh makes several points to suggest that the threat to internal
combustible engines is much farther away than most people believe:
ICE has better range. When Edmunds.com picked up its Tesla Model S
in Fremont, Calif., and drove it 350 miles back down the coast to Los
Angeles, the team had to stop twice at superchargers to top off the
sedan’s batteries. A $100,000 ICE-powered luxury sedan can easily travel
that distance on a single tank of gasoline.
It’s easier (and quicker) to refuel. The biggest hurdle for
electric vehicles is the time it takes to charge. Even in the best case,
Edmunds.com found that the Tesla Model S supercharge stations can
charge the sedan’s battery pack 50 percent in about a half hour. Compare
that to just a couple of minutes to refuel an ICE vehicle.
There’s untapped potential. Even though gasoline has been around
for a while, the biggest advances to its efficiency and emissions are
relatively new, with even more improvements on their way. According to
the Environmental Protection Agency, the fuel efficiency of the average
ICE car is up 16 percent in the past five years.
The environmental benefits of EVs are unclear. An EV is only as
clean as the power plant that generates the electricity it uses. The
greenhouse gas emissions associated with running EVs undercut those
produced by conventional ICEs by roughly 40 percent. But there’s also
the significant environmental impact of manufacturing vehicles in the
first place, and it has been argued that ICE-powered vehicles hold an
edge over their EV counterparts made of rare earth materials.
As technology on both electric and ICE vehicles progresses, Edmunds.com
says it believes that hybrid vehicles which can leverage the myriad
upsides of each technology stand to see the biggest gains in the
coming years and decades. Edmunds.com projects that 40 to 50 percent of
new car sales in 2040 will be hybrids.
Edmunds.com lays out its full argument supporting its outlook for the continued dominance of gasoline-powered vehicles here.