More and more you hear about new “breakthroughs” with regards to internal combustion engines. They get more efficient and the cars fitted with them can achieve better fuel economy.
The question is, is this delaying, or even putting off the electric vehicle?
I think these “breakthroughs” are just small improvements; some final efforts to try and maintain the old status quo. Yes, for the immediate future, improving fuel economy on conventional cars can do a lot of good, especially if you consider that electric vehicles are not within everyone's reach today.
The improvements for the internal combustion engine are small steps that should really have been taken a long time ago. But it is only now with the current awareness on fuel conservation, that engines have become more efficient.
Before there was no real, urgent need. So calling them breakthroughs is giving them a bit more credit than they deserve.
As well, I find the thought that the internal combustion will ‘win’ over the electric vehicle is amusing. Given the potential benefits of the electric drive train, there really is no reason to continue our reliance on gasoline and diesel. And let's face it: Ultimately, the only true ‘winner’ if you want to call it that should be the people who can enjoy a cleaner world and a car that's always full when you go to work in the morning.
For the immediate future, it is clear that the goal is simply better fuel economy. And right now, conventional hybrids are the best solution for the masses.
Sure, the electric vehicle can provide the goal of zero emissions and zero reliance on petroleum. But given that many folks still don't have easy access to electric vehicles (due to cost and production volumes) we will likely have to wait a few more years before we see more electric vehicles on the road. In the meantime, hybrids or vehicles with better fuel economy can provide a lot of consumers with an intermediate before the electric vehicle is ready to go on main stage.
Once the electric vehicle market has matured a bit more, and these vehicles can provide a bit more range, and when the charging infrastructure is more widely adopted (and interoperability is a standard!), the big breakthrough of the electric vehicle will happen.
At that point it simply becomes a common sight in the streets, just like any other vehicle you see today.
This is going to happen. And it's going to happen a lot faster than most people realize.