Plenty of mileage left in combustion engine

Automotive engineers have rebutted claims by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) researchers that the demise of the internal combustion engine could be only five years away. In a report published this month, the EIU claims that it would be ‘futile’ for car manufacturers to undertake any fundamentally new development work on the IC engine as it […]

Automotive engineers have rebutted claims by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) researchers that the demise of the internal combustion engine could be only five years away.

In a report published this month, the EIU claims that it would be ‘futile’ for car manufacturers to undertake any fundamentally new development work on the IC engine as it would be obsolete before new projects could pay for themselves. Instead, the EIU predicts that fuel cells will be powering the electric passenger vehicles of the near future.

But engineers at automotive specialist Ricardo said this week that fuel cells are unlikely to become popular for at least 30 years, unless legislation forces the market to adopt cleaner vehicles.

Car manufacturers working on fuel cell technology agree that fuel cell vehicles are some way off. ‘The reason is cost,’ said Akhiro Wada, Toyota’s vice president of research and development.

The EIU reports that Mercedes, Toyota and Nissan will be ready to launch fuel cell vehicles between 2004 and 2010.

The report, New Generation Engines: 1999 Edition, says the future for battery-only vehicles looks bleak and that methanol-fed fuel cell vehicles are the way forward.