The End of the Internal Combustion Engine

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The End of the Internal Combustion Engine

Even the name conjures images of the industrial revolution – the internal combustion engine. At its inception it was a marvel of moving parts and complicated interactions delicately balanced yet prone to failure if not constantly attended to, dazzling us with raw power that hid its dirty secrets.

But no matter how many flavours were dished up over the years to hide the horribly inefficient, highly toxic combustion engine we are all beginning to realise just how old tech this industrial age hang over really is now that iteration two of EVs with long distance, high performance and new tech smooth driving has arrived.

Recent announcements in France and England have put the execution date on the internal combustion engine at 2040. Others will follow or have already set their own targets even sooner such as India (2030) Norway and the Netherlands in 2025. Four major cities recently voted to ban diesel vehicles – Mexico, Paris, Madrid and Athens all intend to implement the ban by 2025.

Of course the big recent news is that China is drawing up a timetable to end petrol and diesel vehicles from its fleet. The implications of this announcement are monumental as it confirms the shift from the worlds biggest car market to clean vehicles.

It must now be clear even to die hard industry opponents of change that the game is over as mainstream media announce the funeral. Now it’s musical chairs to see who will be left standing. Volvo have recently hoisted their flag to all electric or hybrid vehicles commencing 2019 as has the iconic Aston Martin brand. VW have committed billions to the transition and seem determined to stake their claim on the future with 300 electric models planned across their brand by 2030. All the major manufacturers are scrambling to play catch up.

There are still a few sitting on the fence, a two bob each way bet, not fully convinced they need to jump so quickly. The fence sitters will be shut out.

With the rate of technological change happening in the EV space, the speed of development and improvements in both costs and technology will reveal ICE vehicles for what they have become – bad deals. One hundred year tech, toxic exhaust, expensive to operate, expensive to maintain, 20% efficient, poor performance, restrictions on use and plunging resale values as the penny drops.

The economics are about to switch or may already have for total cost of ownership. Over the next eight years, around 2025, higher performance, cheaper to operate, longer range EVs will be cheaper to buy than the cheapest ICE vehicle.

There may even be ICE graveyards of unsaleable vehicles as people realise and start ditching their unsaleable ICE cars. This has already happened in Madrid as news of the diesel bans spread. Unsaleable diesels are ending up on lots in Madrid and being exported overseas as no one wants them locally. Resale values for diesels in the UK have dropped a quarter in 2017 as the crackdown on the toxic machines intensifies.

The internal combustion engine was quite the invention all those years ago. It has served us well in many respects but just as the motor vehicle supplanted ‘old tech’ horse travel, EVs are about to replace the internal combustion engine with a far superior technology.

It will be a move from analogue to digital. The vehicle will be and in some cases already is a computer on wheels and we are all aware how each iteration of technology improves and reduces in cost. There is no place in this new digital transport age for toxic industrial revolution technology.

September 21st, 2017|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Had a car converted to EV in 2008 - established MY ELECTRIC CAR 2009 - had the pleasure of driving the Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S (P85D) the BMW i3 and the Renault Zoe & Kangoo - all incredible! Predicts the wave of change to EVs in a much bigger way towards the end of 2016 and through 2017/2018. Also predicts big changes to car ownership when autonomous drive cars gain traction (2020 - 2025).


  1. Pete Owen October 31, 2017 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Great article, I agree that “Over the next eight years, around 2025, higher performance, cheaper to operate, longer range EVs will be cheaper to buy than the cheapest ICE vehicle.” Thanks for sharing.

  2. Amanda Barnes November 9, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    You know, with the 2017 Tesla Model S being able to go from 0-60 in 2.28 seconds, I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a way to extend battery life and make it feasible for long distance travelling. The costs for EVs right now are little higher than most people probably want to pay for an electric vehicle but like you mentioned, those will be dropping as the technology becomes cheaper and easier to manufacture. I think it also helps when the US government is offering tax breaks and manufacturers are offering rebates on these EVs to ensure they slowly start taking over and letting combustion engines rest.

  3. John Murray November 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    In 2010 the cost of lithium-ion batteries were US$700-$1000/kWh. In 2015 the prestigious scientific journal ‘Nature’ estimated manufacture costs had fallen to US$200-300/kWh. In 2017 GM stated that the cost of their battery cells for the Chevrolet Bolt were US$145/kWh and Audi stated their battery costs were around 100euro or US$120/kWh. The economies of scale are really starting to kick in. Energy analyst Tony Seba has stated on many occasions, “at US$100/kWh its all over for the internal combustion engine”, as they have already absorbed any benefit from economies of scale and are otherwise too complicated in competition with an EV. An EV is intrinsically cheaper to produce than an ICE vehicle, more like an appliance and so will follow a completely different cost curve compared to conventional vehicles. It can be argued that they are already on par with ICE over whole of life costs. Of course if we factor in the externalised costs of pollution, the EV has already won. Long live the EV.

  4. Alkè December 14, 2017 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Finally it’s happening! Electric cars are becoming the focus of automotive industry. Air pollution is reaching dangerous levels and the shift to electric power might be a solution to this problem.

  5. Angela Willems June 19, 2018 at 6:47 am - Reply

    New to this. Is there a market yet for pre-loved electric vehicles? Can anyone suggest a website

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