Green-vehicle technology race shifts into fuel economy contest

Article by Christian A., on May 6, 2014

At the start of the decade, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other green vehicles were expected to be of demand by the latter half – as a counter against high fuel prices and rising carbon dioxide emissions. Nearly halfway through 2020, it looks like these green-vehicle technologies were lagging and failing to live up to expectations.

On the other hand, other technological wonders aimed at boosting fuel economy have managed to surface like diesel engines, aluminum bodies and hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. Still, the internal combustion engine that the market had dreaded has become a popular choice – thanks to improvements carmakers have made.

Doug Skorupski, Volkswagen of America product strategy manager, told Automotive News that while there is a future for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, people still believe that there is still life left in the internal combustion engine. He noted that customers need a good reason before they would move away from internal combustion engine onto other technologies.

Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker, on the other hand, remarked that EVs have been a disappointment, compared to what were expected. He cited the still high prices of EVs, their limited battery capacity, and the stabilization of the fuel prices.

He also noted that carmakers “have done a great job” of making the internal combustion engine better.

Andy Palmer, Nissan Motor Corp.'s global product planning chief, remarked things have continued to change. He noted that years ago, rival carmakers believed that hybridization was the “only realistic path” to improve fuel economy.

“I don't think anyone believes that now." He said that US consumers are now more open to diesel-powered vehicles, adding that downsizing is now a reality in North America. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Topics: fuel economy

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