For a long time, the auto industry assumed that only the shortage of fossil fuels could lead to the death of the internal combustion engine. She was wrong. This has the merit of being clear. Whether it runs on gasoline or diesel, several governments have already decided: they promise to ban the commercialization of the heat engine by 2040. The electric power thruster now appears to be the best placed to succeed it. Is this the end of the internal combustion engine? Several players in the automotive industry still find it difficult to believe it, but nevertheless recognize that we are currently witnessing its inexorable decline and that the future is electric mobility. Moreover, several manufacturers have already interrupted its development and ensure that no new thermal engine is on the drawing tables. This does not mean that it will not evolve a little yet. It must indeed always deal with increasingly restrictive measures in relation to emissions of CO2, nitrogen oxides or fine particles. The heat engine has visibly reached its limits and, this time, nothing suggests that any technical innovation can make it cleaner. After the deactivation of the cylinders, the automatic device stopped, the variable compression ratio and many other innovations, the engine manufacturers’ reservoir of creativity seems to have run dry.
The new oil
Since the transition to all-electric will not happen overnight, the internal combustion engine still has a role to play: to transform into a hybrid. Whether classic, rechargeable or even light, this dual engine (gasoline-electric) represents the only efficient and financially viable solution to keep the crankshaft of so-called traditional engines running for a few more years. This transitional technology, which uses gasoline and electricity, can sometimes travel some 90 kilometers in all-electric mode. A performance likely to temper the ardor – especially if it improves – of these elected officials threatening to prohibit access to the city center to smoking vehicles. This could also give a little more time to research on this fuel, perceived today as its last chance of survival. Porsche, for one, recently announced, in collaboration with the Siemens Energy group, a research program to create a synthetic fuel whose carbon comes from CO2 taken from the atmosphere. Far from being harmless to the environment, this synthetic fuel nevertheless manages to achieve a neutral carbon footprint. Indeed, it is produced using energy from wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Called Haru Oni, this pilot project aims to produce 550 million liters of this gasoline within five years. This could power current heat engines, thus accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gases without waiting for the complete renewal of the current vehicle fleet. The idea is good, but at what cost? Initial estimates already show a cost of $ 2.30 per liter. A sum on which governments will not fail to impose taxes.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY RENAULT SPORT This year (2021), the share of biofuels that will power the engine of a Formula 1 (in the photo a Renault Formula 1 engine) will reach 5.75%. With the new generation of power unit, scheduled for 2026, this proportion will be 100%. The German consortium is not the only one to follow this path. The International Automobile Federation (FIA) presented a biofuel refined from organic waste a few weeks ago. Samples having already been sent to the Formula 1 teams, they must conduct validation tests with a view to its introduction with the new engine regulations scheduled for 2026. If this biofuel does not ensure the sustainability of the thermal engine, this will likely be the end. Its only outlets will then be certain emerging countries such as Africa, where the association of automobile manufacturers already estimates that sales of new vehicles will quintuple by 2035. And most of them will be equipped with internal combustion mechanics.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY PORSCHE AG A puzzle that many automotive technicians will soon no longer have to solve List of states that will ban the sale of motor vehicles powered by a heat engine, whether it runs on gasoline or diesel, and the year in which this ban comes into effect. Germany: 2030
United Kingdom: 2035
Taiwan: 2040 Sources: Charged Future and Greenpeace