When most of us picture the high-tech personal mobility of the future, we tend to imagine a sleek, dead-quiet electric car, packed with voice- or motion-directed gizmos and self-driving features. We see ourselves gliding around almost effortlessly, free to talk, work or text as we see fit.
What few of us conjure up is having this sort of experience in a fueled car. But that may be changing in the face of recent design advances. The ancient internal combustion engine, is proving to be much more than a stubborn technological incumbent. Also it is predicted that new fuel engines will increase efficiency and reduce running costs by about 30%.
More than a century after becoming the dominant way that people move around, fuel powered cars are challenging ostensibly more advanced electric vehicles. It has proved hard to beat engines in which fuel is ignited, drives pistons and propels a vehicle. Even in 2040, according to forecasting agencies such as the U.S. Energy Information Administration, cars with petrol and diesel powered engines will still represent some 95% of the international car market.
Scientists are making progress on a super-battery that may some day push aside combustion, but they are a long way from making electric cars competitive in the mass market.