With all the focus on hybrids and electric cars, you might assume that the internal combustion (IC) engine was headed for extinction. Yet more than 99 percent of the world’s new cars still use one. That includes conventional hybrids, whose batteries and electric motors derive their energy entirely from gasoline. Even those automakers who are most bullish on alternative energy say that the IC engine will remain their primary propulsion system for decades.
And that’s not necessarily bad news. Some IC powerplants achieve near-zero emissions of pollution-generating compounds (they will still emit carbon dioxide), while others can generate 600 horsepower more efficiently than ever. As governments begin regulating CO2 emissions, the latest trend sees automakers downsizing engines without losing the power and smoothness that drivers expect. Here, three intriguing approaches that will reach showrooms around the globe in the coming years.