2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Jimmy Dinsmore's picture

Prediction: The End Of The Gasoline Engine Is Not As Close As You Think

As rumors swirl of major automakers shifting gears from internal combustion technology to electrification, many consumers seem frustrated and voice concern about the uncertain future of the car and truck. Truck owners especially can be counted in the skeptical category when it comes to electric vehicles, despite some biased surveys.
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Remember the REM song from the 1990s called “It’s The End Of the World (And I Feel Fine)”? That song, with a crazy amount of lyrics, seems to play in my head regularly when I see bombastic headlines and proclamations from even reputable publications proclaiming the end of the gasoline and diesel engine is coming within the not-so-distant future.

To that, I say, hold on a minute. It’s not the end of the world, and I feel fine.

While certainly electrification is part of the future for the entire auto industry, this doesn’t mean that internal combustion engines just go away like the dinosaurs (of which they consume for fuel, ironically).

Rather I take a more rational approach than others. You can’t deny that automakers are going full bore toward an electrified future. When Tesla emerged as a legitimate automaker they were a catalyst and disrupted the auto industry. Some view that as a bad thing, and I take a different approach.

I’m pro-consumer, meaning I want as many options for consumers to choose from as possible. This includes EVs, hybrids and yes gasoline and diesel engines, including V8s. I know how passionate the V8 crowd is in for both trucks and muscle cars.

I write enough about the Mustang Mach-E to where the mention of an EV Mustang gets the “muscle cars need to be loud V8s” crowd riled up. Likewise, when I talk about the 2023 F-150 EV, the lifted truck, rolling coal folks get as loud as their lifted trucks.

My point is, we can all play nice in the sandbox together. There should be powertrain options for whatever it is you want. Unfortunately, automakers are lacking a backbone and vision right now. With the shift in political power in Washington, automakers are fearful of tighter EPA regulations and are trying to react to that potential.

But do the consumers want that? That’s the crux of the issue. It would be a vital mistake for any auto manufacturer to push a product onto the consumer that they simply don’t want. And that’s the electric elephant in the room when it comes to the discussion.

Proponents say “it’s good for our planet’s future” or “it’s the right thing to do” or if a consumer would just drive an EV they would like it. All of that is up for debate, but in the end what matters most is what the American consumer is willing to spend their hard-earned money on. Keeping in mind the average vehicle purchase last 12 years. That’s a big investment for a lot of uncertainty.

Ford's 5.2-liter V8 engine

‘Combustion engines really aren't going anywhere for quite some time’
In an article published by NPR, Bill Visnic, editorial director at the Society of Automotive Engineers, said the above quote and laid it out there. As director of SAE he certainly has his finger on the pulse and would know what he’s talking about.

In the same NPR article, Sam Abuelsamid, an auto analyst with Navigant, said: "Even if ... 100 percent of vehicles sold were electric starting today, it would still take 20 to 25 years to replace the entire vehicle fleet with electric vehicles."

Clean ICE
Today’s gasoline-powered vehicles have more technology than ever. With smaller engines and turbo boosting and direct injection, today’s internal combustion engine runs cleaner and more efficiently than ever.

So it begs the question, is a mass exodus from ICE necessary? Even Mary Nichols, who heads the California Air Resources Board, said in the NPR article that today’s combustion engines are cleaner than they’ve ever been.

"I started working in this area of air pollution control back in 1971," she told NPR. "And in that time, the air emissions from internal combustion engines have been slashed by over 90 percent — twice.”

Ford F-150 PowerBoost

Still on the fringe
The stat I can’t get past and when having a debate about EVs, it’s hard to ignore. Consumer Reports claims in their “Green Choice” survey that a majority of consumers, 61% in fact, claim that tailpipe emissions are a factor in choosing a vehicle to purchase or lease.

If this is true, and color me skeptical, then why are EVs nothing more than a fringe vehicle with so few sales? EVs, at present are nothing more than a blip in the big picture of vehicular purchases. Tesla, not surprising, leads the way in total EV sales, but even their best-selling vehicle barely hits 100,000 units. Compare that to the 900,000 units Ford sells of the Ford F-150 every year. Ram too, General Motors as well.

You mean to tell me that 61% of the average consumer uses emissions as a guiding factor, and still chooses to buy a pickup truck? We shall see how well the new PowerBoost Ford F-150 hybrid sells. Sure it has a lot of perks, including a 7.2 kW generator, but is that plus slightly better fuel economy a factor for the truck consumer?

I remain skeptical and question any survey that insinuates otherwise. As Ford plunges forward with the Mustang Mach-E, a vehicle that can rival the Tesla on long range, this will be an important vehicle to show where the American consumer is. Have they just been waiting for a longer-range SUV or car that wasn’t named Tesla? With so many auto manufacturers launching real EV contenders, the next couple of years will show us a lot.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E charging

Coexistence is the key
I’m 100% in favor of auto manufacturers investing in electrification. Ford, I believe is saying and doing many of the right things. They’ve toned down the rhetoric that GM seems to have been drawn toward.

As GM announced a plan to eliminate production of gas-powered vehicles and only produce EVs by the 2035, Ford has resisted committing fully like that. And that’s wise. But, it hasn’t stopped Ford from doubling down on their commitment to electrification either.

“The transformation of Ford is happening and so is our leadership of the EV revolution and development of autonomous driving,” said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley. “We’re now allocating a combined $29 billion in capital and tremendous talent to these two areas, and bringing customers high-volume, connected electric SUVs, commercial vans and pickup trucks.”

My final take is this: Embrace the future, but don’t do so without paying attention to the consumer. Stop trying to convince them of what they want and listen to their needs. A slow, logical, reasonable approach to electrification is wise. Dip your toe into the electrification pool, don’t dive in. I believe General Motors is on the high board and about to make that plunge and it could be costly. Meanwhile, I believe Ford is taking a more cautious, and therefore, reasonable approach.

And as people grouse and complain about the upcoming electrification of the Ford F-150 or the Mustang Mach-E, they need to realize that these vehicles might very well prove out the EV market and shape the future.

I want to hear your take. Do you agree that EVs are being too obviously overhyped to try to convince an unwilling consumer? Or am I off base? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.

Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.


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Comments

In your article you make no mention of the one thing that is going to make EVs king of the auto industry. Its as if you have not even read about them or researched the game changer that is coming. The Solid State Battery, the new technology in game is the answer we've all been waiting for. Just Google Solid State Batteries and read about them. You'll see why the auto industry believes ICE is a dinosaur.
Solid state could be a game changer, I agree. Until I see it play out, I will hold on predictions regarding that. But yes, recharge times are a huge factor for EVs and solid state could diminish those to almost nothing.
I don't want to change vehicles they can improve more on emissions where we don't have to change. These changes are going to cost people thousands of dollars they don't have. Good for the people it might fit. I live in the country and we have 6 months of brutal cold weather. The EV cars don't do well in the cold the batteries don't hold their charge. I can't afford to insulate my garage and heat it. I have a 39 minute drive to town to get groceries. I have a second home 300 miles away which I am back in the woods a mile off the road same conditions I have at my other place. Not feasible for either place. I burn natural gas at one place and propane at the other. With our conditions solar doesn't work well because we're lucky if we get 7 scattered days out of 6 month with sun which you need with solar plus the heavy snow and ice blocks them and they don't work. So emissions are needed for cars, and heating for areas like mine. I'm in Michigan. I'm on a fixed income cannot afford to replace everything that would need changed. My electric bill with gas is already almost $400 a month if with other it would over double close to triple that I can't afford that.
I tend to agree with you. Many of these EVs are tested in pristine weather situations with pristine road conditions too. Come test them in Michigan in the dead of winter with potholes and salt everywhere.
I think this piece is completely wrong-headed, and I think I can illustrate why by comparing with something similar that happened in the recent past. Think back to the shift from film cameras to digital cameras. There were epic, fiery debates online, on various forums, about film versus digital. There was certainly resistance to digital cameras from some quarters, and there were some folks—a relative handful—who never gave up shooting film. And nobody forced them to. Some of them are still shooting film today and waxing poetic about all the reasons why they love it. (Hint: Kodak recently re-introduced Ektachrome!) However, the vast majority did go digital and never looked back. It was cheaper, it was more convenient, and after some period of rapid technological development, it performed better. It didn't take long at all for most camera makers to stop producing new film cameras. (They sure did rake in the cash while selling everyone new digital cameras, though! It was party time for the camera industry, aside from Kodak.) However, cameras (like motor vehicles) are durable goods with a long service life. All those millions of existing film cameras didn't just disappear. Well, I'm sure some were actually thrown away, because their market value went to almost nothing. You could buy them for a song on eBay. Most were just put in a cardboard box and shoved into the back of a closet and forgotten. I'd say the major tipping point for digital cameras was about 2004. Now in 2021 you can still find huge numbers of used film cameras for peanuts on eBay, although not as "can't give em away" cheap as they were several years ago, and the supply of certain high-end and desirable models has dried up and their prices have become pretty dear. I can't see any reason why the market of combustion cars doesn't go the same way. It's not going to be a problem of people clamoring for gasoline-powered cars and trucks and not being able to get them. It's going to be a market absolutely flooded with dirt cheap used vehicles that most people don't want anymore.
I like your analogy, but consider the average car is owned more than 12 years. Cameras, while I don't have that stat, were far less. And obviously far less expensive. The gist of this article is not to be opposed to change or EVs even, it's just that it's foolhardy to impose some random date to eliminate a product that 95% of the people want.
But no-one is planning to phase out ICE cars by 2030 (or whenever the deadline is in the various countries and states), they're just proposing to ban the sale of new ones. So you'll still be able to buy a gas car in 2031 or 2035 - just not a brand new one. And in the UK, where new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030, hybrids can still be sold until 2035. And the date isn't random: it's been selected to be challenging but achievable.
The whole world will turn into Cuba (car wise that is).
One issue needs to be addressed before EV's can become mainstream and its a big one. The current power grid is no where near in being able to support the energy pull EV's will create. Can you imagine 80% of vehicles plugging in at night to recharge. EV's are not the answer, I'm sure in 100 years or so, an alternative fuel source will replace battery powered cars altogether.
Yeah, I am a huge EV advocate. But I think that it is not realistic to imagine that gas and diesel vehicles are going to go away any time soon. Importantly, people forget that ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles make up over 95% of new vehicle sales. And as long as gas prices are kept low, the vast majority of people are not going to want to change. ICE vehicles are familiar and simple to use and refuel. With that said, there are a growing number of reasons why EVs are becoming more attractive for many people. Costs of EVs are dropping, range is getting much longer, and public chargers are getting much more common, whereas most current EV owners just charge up at home, overnight. But that brings up the issue of people who don't have home charging capability and live far from public chargers. My thoughts about EV zealots pronouncing the end of gas cars is let's revisit the idea, when EVs are more than 10% of new vehicle sales, and again when EVs pass 25% of sales. And that also implies that by then most automakers will potentially offer 1/4 of their vehicles as EVs. Whereas most legacy automakers today offer just one or two EV models, and the overall sales of those models is well under 5% of total sales. For now, I think that EV growth needs a LOT of support to get it out of being a niche market. Part of that support is that hybrids and plug-in hybrids are also electrified vehicles, and therefore helping the transition to full BEVs (battery-only electric vehicles). And part is understanding that most transportation transitions simply do not happen all at once. They happen at last.
Great feedback Dean, as usual. Thank you.
Surely the advent of Synthetic fues[including BioLpg] will mean a reprieve for the IC engine?; I am currently running a Prius dual-fuel car, using Calor BioLPG [which is carbon neutral in a closed cycle] & am thus helping the enviornment! Of course there is room for Electric vehicles as well, but I do think that Governments should be aware of carbon neutral fuel for IC engines, thus ehlping the vast majority of people running IC engined cars, etc. & also prolonging The IC engined vehicles being manufactured.?
Very great insight. I do believe bio fuels have a very significant role in the future of the auto industry. That's why I'm not just punting on ICE or going all in on battery electric.
The simple fact of the matter is EVs are going to have a hell of a time penetrating mega cities. People living in apartments can’t easily charge their car. Unless electric charge stations are as ubiquitous as gas stations and charge times massively decrease it’s dead in the water for mass adoption.
The simple fact of the matter is EVs are going to have a hell of a time penetrating mega cities. People living in apartments can’t easily charge their car. Unless electric charge stations are as ubiquitous as gas stations and charge times massively decrease it’s dead in the water for mass adoption.
I worked in offshore drilling for over 8 years, I spent more than that working on oil tankers and I can't wait for electrification. I own 4 cars, each car I buy I look for the cleanest and most efficient possible, and I am willing to pay for it. I believe I cna have the best of all worlds. My Ford F150 diesel gets phenomenol mileage ( I don't rip off of stoplights or se how fast I can go) and if I could have paid another 2-3K for a hybrid diesel I would have done it in a heartbeat. My wife's BMW X5 Diesel easily gets 29 mpg locally and we have clocked it at 34.5 mpg highway in warm weather. I have a 34 ' Pontoon houseboat I turned into a hybrid, because I give a damn. I would have happily paid more for a hybrid assist there also. I live way the hell out in the country, up until recently an electric car was not a viable option, when that changes, count me in. My job has taken me all over the world in the last 35 + yeras, I have been hearing about climate change from people all over for almost that period of time. We either do something or we destroy our planet as we know know it.
Interesting take John. I'm not a global warming denier or anything, but it's annoying to put the burden on the U.S. when it's actually China and India that are far worse. The U.S. has greatly diminished their carbon footprint. And then there's the environmental ramifications of digging out lithium from the ground. It almost offsets the green savings of gas to batteries. It's really just switching from one non-renewable resource to another.
In the end, it will come down to money and technology. By 2030 most electric cars will have a range of 400 miles and be able to refuel in 15 minutes. Also battery prices will continue to drop dramatically. Given that an electric car has just 25% of the components of a fossil fuel car this means that they will be significantly cheaper to buy by then. I suspect the tipping point on prices will be 2026, so after that point, why would anyone other than than those who love the smell of gasoline by a fossil fuel car? So yes, listen to the consumer, and by 2026, the consumer will be demanding electric cars.
You may be right by 2026 and certainly it always comes down to money. But making arbitrary and short-sighted timeframes like 2030 or 2035 is foolishness. Let's see where the consumer takes the market. That's always been my point. 95% of vehicles purchased are gas-powered. That's a HUGE shift to happen between now and then.
After the UK and EU started rolling our target dates of 2040, then 2035 and 2030, car manufacturers redoubled their investment into Electric Cars. Technology, regulation and the market can all work together to achieve this. 2030, after all, is 9 years away: that's quite a long time.
I am 63 years old and own a 2003 Corvette, 2009 Hyundai Elantra and a 2014 Subaru Forester. I am not excluding the possibility of owning an electric vehicle, but I plan to keep my Corvette till I die. There is no substitute for the roar of a V8. I don’t care how fast an electric car is, if it sounds like a sewing machine I don’t want it. As far as a daily driver is concerned, I wouldn’t mind having an electric car. I’m just glad that I have lived my life and enjoyed driving cars that aren’t all econoblobs that all look the same. I enjoy looking at old cars that are works of art, but I am part of a generation that is fading away. I seriously doubt if I will be buying a new car after 2035.
Own a corvette as well - couldn’t agree with you more! The roadways filled with clone techno mobiles constantly reminds me of the ‘sheeple’ we have become. If one likes ICE v8 muscle cars in lieu of the clone mobiles, they should have the choice and availability of those vehicles!
I am right there with you John. My husband and I are 62 and 59 years old respectively. We own a 1988 Z52 Corvette, a 1991 Corvette and a 1968 Mustang Fastback. My Dad was a shade tree mechanic and I have been raised around cars. I appreciate the roar of a V8 and I enjoy driving a stick shift. Our cars aren't just a way to get to work and back home. They are something we enjoy driving. We love the roar of an ICE engine and the unique design of these iconic cars. We too plan on driving these "til death do us part.". I want to do my part to heal our world but driving a "sewing machine" does not appeal to me either. Also, my biggest concern regarding an electric car is...are we prepared for the waste from those vehicles when their batteries wear out? I understand that the life span of those batteries is approximately 10 years. We already have concerns regarding the small lithium batteries from our cell phones. The lithium-ion battery from an electric car is much larger and are not considered very recyclable. These too can pollute the land, air and oceans if not properly disposed of. Car manufacturers are rushing to make electric vehicles but no one seems to be addressing what should be done with the waste from these much larger batteries. I feel we should have recycling and waste solutions in place BEFORE we all jump into an all electric future. Until this concern is addressed, I am not interested in an electric vehicle. Give me my muscle cars and gas driven trucks.
I hope fuel is still around. I still have a goal to reach for a second time before I leave this earth That’s my 1955 Chevy 2 door hard top. It was my first project when I was 19 yr. took 5 years to rebuild drove it less then two years. Decided I was going to do it correct . Now at 54yr two kids and two divorces and learning how to weld. The shell is on the fram. I only have a V8 to go in it. Unless someone comes up with an electric motor .... not possible in my mind. I need gas for it not an extension cord.
I'm sure fuel will be around.
EV's are still expensive and not many are SUV, and there are currently no trucks available for sale. EV's will continue their rise when prices are more equal to ICE vehicles and more SUV and truck options are available. Another issue is fast, abundant charging stations. Right now it seems like Tesla is the only company serious about it. Sure, you have others like Electrify America, but most of their chargers are much slower, and their aren't as many. It will also take family members and friends of long term ICE holdouts to convince them to change. Most don't like change for the fear of the unknown. ICE vehicles will become a niche in the market. Much like EV's are today. The problem is, not many car manufacturers will be able to afford to continue producing those niche products. Especially once they place tons of money into developing EV's.
The average person doesn't understand that product planning for any new vehicle takes 5-6 years. So they have to begin these things now. This is why I say the 2035 timeframe is just too ambitious.
The first of those "5 or 6 year" planning periods is done, leaving more than 2 of them to go between now and 2035, so that's clearly not an issue by your lights. I think the average person is probably unaware of this.
But that's the point. The planning isn't done. They are still planning out ICE vehicles. Heck there's another generation Mustang coming that's not EV.
Until the range goes up to over 300, and the introduction of static state batteries, plus lowering the cost of EVs, they won't take hold. This doesn't even touch on the major infrastructure issues that exist and that have to be improved.

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