The National Petroleum Council (NPC) in the US says high costs and technology limitations will ensure internal combustion engines remain the dominant power source for cars until at least the middle of the century.
Despite innovations in electric and hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technologies, a report from the NPC says the lower cost of internal combustion engines and their suitability with a diverse set of vehicle platforms will see conventional petrol and diesel engines, hybrids, plug-ins and natural gas engines continue to lead the market until 2050.
The NPC believes ongoing technology advancements such as vehicle lightweighting, improved aerodynamics and drivetrain electrification could see the fuel economy of internal combustion engined vehicles improve 60-90 per cent over the next four decades, satisfying the US Government’s push to halve greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector's 2005 levels by 2050.
The report says it is too early at this stage to identify the ‘fuel of the future’, and as a result recommends a broad portfolio of technology options should be pursued and supported, with the government remaining “technology neutral while market dynamics drive commercialisation”.
Achieving the 50 per cent emissions reduction by 2050 is made considerably more challenging, however, by the projection that vehicle miles travelled (VMT) will increase by 60-80 per cent in the US by 2050, a problem the study fails to find a solution to.