Monday, May 19, 2008

The ICE is not dead, but it's definitely on life support.

With oil and gas prices reaching record highs with every passing day, with climate change becoming a unavoidable political issue and with global security so perilously connected to the free flow of oil from the most unstable regions of our planet, our oil addiction is staring us squarely in the eye. And we appear to be at a point of no return with high energy prices. The era of the "rebound", the almost automatic cyclical price relief that often results after the summer driving months, is now largely a thing of the past.

By 2010 the hybrid powertrain will be the norm not the exception. The steps toward the complete hybridization of vehicles is well underway. GM is unveiling hybrid versions of its vehicles at a breakneck pace. What's more, in a businessweek article out today, GM admits the future of the franchise rests on it's ability to provide fuel efficient automobiles.

The pure internal combustion engine will eventually be replaced by electrical powertrains. First, in the form of parallel hybrid powertrains (as seen in the popular Prius models). Next, with serial hybrids and range extenders (see GM's Chevy Volt, Nissan and others).

By 2017, when the revised CAFE standards will kick in, it is expected that fully 80% of new vehicles on offer will have an electrical engine of one variety or another. Of the hybrid vehicles offered in the 2017 model year, we expect the numbers to be 60% serial hybrids, 30% parallel hybrids and 10% pure EV.

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