Micropost: One More Model Cycle Left for Some ICE Cars

Denmark announced a few days back that ICE cars would be banned from sale by 2030. That’s 12 years or roughly not enough model cycles…

2015 BMW i3: http://www.bmwedison.com

A car launched in 2018 might be replaced in 2025 leaving a short product cycle to recoup investments. That makes the period around now the last point at which it will be worth bothering to engineer for ICE engines. The UK has, not surprisingly, gone with a cut-off for ICE engines of 2040 but I think that if this change-over happens at the planned speed, the UK will change over faster than 2040. (Whether or not it´s part of the EU, EU policy will affect the UK).

We have been discussing here how manufacturers can

The previous shape of things to come: wikipedia.org

not be troubled so much with hardware engineering innovation but prefer to tinker with the electronic side. Well, if you didn’t see much future in much of the machinery associated with ICE then perhaps that shift of attention makes more sense. Innovations (such as they are) in electronics will be carried forward into the electric car package whereas driveline technology and the bits that touch it much less so.

So, if much of the EU decides that an ICE car is not saleable after 2030, many manufacturers must be looking hard at what is worth renewing for sale in 2023; thereafter the case for further investment in ICE gets weaker and weaker. Will niche cars make the cut?

Signs that the industry is going to adapt to the ICE ban would be in the first instance a gradual change in personel from those experienced in ICE technology to those able to deal with battery technology.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

33 thoughts on “Micropost: One More Model Cycle Left for Some ICE Cars”

  1. Well…

    1) The Danish market is small and they’re only proposals (it’s currently believed they’re likely to be adopted in some form, though).

    2) Re the UK, the ban isn’t on internal combustion engines; the ban is on vehicles using such engines as the sole means of propulsion, so hybrids are acceptable.

    To me, that implies continuing ICE development as part of a pack of powertrains.

    1. There is a list of countries proposing a ban on sales: Austria 2020, France 2040, UK 2040, India 2030, Norway 2025, Ireland 2030, Holland 2030, Scotland 2032. Yes, the Danish figure is one of the early ones and there is no EU-wide plan yet. Many cities are going ahead with the ban in use which is more immediate. London has vehicle charging which discourages ICE engines. The UK looks pretty timid with its partial ban, a very small “c” conservative approach. Much as I like cars I can see the downsides of petrol engines pretty clearly and won´t be too sad when they are not the standard means of propulsion. I might have been a little too optimistic in my model cycle estimate. Perhaps two model cycles then. Most of the remaining work will be in improving efficiency. I don´t see anyone devising exciting new formats of ICE engine. Those glories days are already over. My main wish is that ICE engined cars can be retained as limted-use toys for occasional use. If I can do a four or five tankfuls of petrol driving every years I will be happy enough.

  2. Will Denmark et al. provide a new set of laws of physics to make these remote emission vehicles viable for everyday use?

    1. The ‘law’ you’re referring to doesn’t have to be invented. It just has to be applied more comprehensively. It’s called charging infrastructure.

    2. Simon has provided a clear response. Although I wasn´t around at the time, I can imagine that there was a lot of doubt about installing municipal sewers, municipal mains water and municipal electricity. For the most part the matter of building the infrastructure is well within Horst & Rittel`s range of tame problems. If I was to be really provokative I would suggest not not bothering with much e-car infrastructure and re-organise around reduced personal transportation which is another kettle of ballgames entirely. So, what cars we have would have a mix of powertrains but be vastly fewer in number. Now that´s a differnt and much harder discussion.
      If I was the Quandt family or any major owner of a car maker I´d luiquidate my assets and get into another branch of manufacturing.

    3. How does the number of charging points reduce the time it takes to recharge the car?
      As long as one spends ninety minutes at the charger for every sixty minutes of driving vehicles with relocated emission are not suitable for everyday use. In order to reduce charging times to dimensions that are competitive to refuelling time of an ICE car you need voltages and/or currents that are not safe in the hands of the driving public.
      As long as this fundamental problem is not solved electro cars won’t conquer the mass market and that’s before you think about providing e-powered Landcruisers to Red Cross people in Nepal.
      Quick calculation: for an acceptable operative range of 600 to 700 kilometres at anything above snail pace an electro car needs about 180 to 200 kWh of battery capacity (about double the capacity a Tesla S has today. If you drive an S like an ICE car and not like an act of worship to Elon the Enlightened you get a range of about 250 kilometres, hence the numbers). For a recharge time of say ten minutes you would need 1,000 to 1,200 kW of electrical power going through the cable. Watch your pacemaker!

    4. Dave: I agree that there need to be changes to the way we use cars and that includes patterns of recharging use. Seldom do we face the choice between the bad and the good, rather the bad and the less bad or between bad and the compromised good. For all the minor and less minor tasks to be sorted out so we can get away from using ICE engines, they are less of a problem than doing nothing. I think it´s good to point out problems but none of them make doing nothing an acceptable option.
      Personally, my issue with the whole ICE/electric car business is that it assumes we carry on living for and planning for 12,000 miles-a-year suburban lifestyles (I am wearing my urban planning/architecture hat now)

    5. Richard: then we should change our idea of mobility first and introduce electric cars second.
      As per today, e-cars are competing not against each other but against one of the most evolved industrial products that nearly perfectly fit the idea most people have of their mobility.
      Re-educating people was what already made fail a whole concept of society.

      Even if most car users don’t regularly do 600 kilometre stints (I did, at more than 80,000 kilometres a year) they nevertheless want to have the possibility to do so and take their main/only car for their holiday trip. On our return trip from Italy we did 1,300 kilometres in one day with only one refuelling stop for the car (and two for us) that took less than five minutes to fully restore the 1,000+ kilometre range of the car (it’s unfair, but our Golf Mk4 with pump jet engine is hard to beat as a mile eater at about sixty miles to the gallon).
      In an e-car we would have needed three days, of which two would have been spent at the chargers. #

    6. Dave: cart and horse – which is which. Perhaps it´s the cart going alongside the horse (that´s a de Bono kind of solution). About the car travel for vacation. One could perhaps imagine other solutions. None of them are perfect but then again having an ICE car on the basis of the family holiday is like building your own Olympic pool for a weekly lap. Better use the municipal one and use the bath at home for a warm soak. We drove across Europe this year instead of using the train. It was hateful: the stress of 150 kmph on crowded motorways and the sheer suckiness of the car-based infrastructure seen on the way. As a designer I see this as a matter of juggling compromises and looking for mix and match solutions rather than silver bullets. Assuming you are in the UK, a train trip to Rome is not an option but have you considered multi-modal transport. It will force the kids to pack much less stuff!

  3. There will be an enormous investment required to upgrade electricity generation and distribution networks before a universal switch to electric cars becomes remotely feasible, even in First-World developed economies. ICE and hybrid vehicles are likely to be with us for a long time to come, especially in rural areas and less developed countries. That said, such countries close to the equator with reliable, unbroken sunshine could use multiple solar energy fields near to charging stations to avoid having to build complex transmission grids.

    As Richard suggests, I would be happy to pay a large ICE surcharge (provided it is applied to petrol, not VED, so it is genuinely a tax on usage) to continue to use my flat-six Boxster purely for fun, as I do today. (That’s assuming I’m still able to get in and out of it: by 2030, I’ll be knocking on 70 years’ old.) In the meantime, we intend to hold onto my Boxster and our Mini, both 2014 cars, for the foreseeable future, or at least until the likely progression route to hybrid or electric becomes clearer. We don’t do more than 6,000 miles a year in total and both are garaged when not in use, so should last pretty much indefinitely.

    For people who use their cars for work and/or rack up much bigger mileage than us, I would think that PCP with a GFV is the best way to protect against obsolescence and a collapse in residual values.

    1. @Daniel O Callaghan
      I would think with your low miles per year you would “presently” find an EV perfect, I too match or exceed that figure using an i3 in rural Suffolk with no running expense ( solar panels) other than insurance. The EV is more responsive, quieter and simpler to drive than any ICE device.
      Two near neighbours also have EVs and declare they won’t be returning to conventional engines and drive trains.
      Just recently total strangers have begun to approach with questions of interest something I’ve not experienced in my previous six years of EV ownership so the movement is certainly gaining momentum.

  4. My first comment was slightly provocative, of course. I agree that the efforts that have to be taken will cost a lot of money and time. 2030 certainly is (too?) optimistic in this regard.

    But we will have to get used to the idea that transportation doesn’t come free of charge and won’t be as handily available as we know it today – Richard already mentioned changes of lifestyle to come.

    And yes, the technology won’t be suitable for all uses at once. But already today, who is really driving 600 km in a stretch on most of their days? Most people will cover total distances below 100 km, divided in several much smaller lengths. Here we have to think differently than we do today: every stop – at work, at home, in a parking – can be used for recharging. This is what I think about when I mention infrastructure. Parts of it are already available.

  5. The environment case for EVs doesn’t make much sense to me. It seems to be swapping one sort of pollution for another.

    In the U.K. at least, fewer young people are learning to drive. As the older generations of car owner/drivers die off perhaps this will bring about the required change in attitude necessary for widespread EV adoption. Stream music when you want it rather than own a good ol’ fashioned MP3 and rent an electric vehicle when you need one.

    1. I see the EV as part of a wider systemic shift. As you say, use vehicles less. About the pollution, it is easier to mitigage emmissions from few power stations compared to many vehicles. “According to the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “EVs convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.” Further, if the energy is produced by solar power or other renewables the CO2 output is reduced.
      A major bottleneck in EV implementation is the supply of rare earth metals needed for batteries. I believe China is number one, Australia number two and Russia number three. If Mr Putin was cleverer he would be interested in battery production. The Australians have a conservative government uninterested in climate change and China is making hay with battery production and EV technology generally.

  6. And this is how we all get led down the garden path : “EVs convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.”

    It compares apples to oranges. It is thoroughly INSIDIOUS, because the thermal power station supplying electricity to the grid only averages about 40% thermal efficiency in the first place, and loses about 10% to transmission and distribution. So 60% of all that is perhaps 24% total efficiency for the EV. Not really that much ahead of the fossil fueled vehicle if we can believe that statistic. But the public never gets fed the real facts, does it? Not these days. It’s slanted to make EVs look like the second coming by leaving out the primary salient fact. I’m surprised that you, Richard, failed to see through the charade.

    Nor are power stations as easy to emission control as a petrol engine, unless they burn natural gas exclusively. The exhaust pipes are extremely large, and volume goes up as the cube of the dimensions, making it very hard to cover the surface area of the pipe evenly with precipitators without creating insidious back pressure. Some things do not scale all that well. So, another new “old wives’ tale” written by people never having been at the sharp end, and producing ludicrous statements like the above US Dept of Energy one. It’s brainwashing by omission or just blue-sky-dreaming, or I read it in a colour magazine so it must be true kind of thing.

    I’m glad I’m an engineer who can sort the bullshit from the merely fantastic. Inconveniently, I spent a career in the electricity-generating business, and can argue the hind legs off a donkey who studied arts and humanities and urban planning because maths was too difficult at school and who now presume to lecture me, but somehow manage to surface in governmental power and tell everyone else how to live. Enough of that way of thinking – what Stalin couldn’t achieve by issuing central planning five year plans, modern bureaucracy has effortlessly achieved.

    The EU government seems to be filled with people of the egghead variety who seem to think they know what’s innately best for its citizens. Yet, they resolutely ignored the NOx problem in the literature even back in the day and offered cheap diesel to the masses, upon which you lot are now choking from the exhaust. It is taking city governments at ground zero, two layers below the steel-rimmed glass-eyed “central planners” to point out the diesel problem and to ban them; presumably the central planners have never caught up on their pencil-pushing thinking. The latter even co-opted “emissions”as being CO2 exclusively, when the really nasty stuff was not that.

    So to fix one monumental mistake on diesel, governments of individual countries in the EU happily assume that their great new idea — “EVs” (or ban the ICE) — by such and such a year is the solution to everything, when it quite clearly is not. EVs have a very low market penetration at present, but the gilded thinkers have already decided it’s the next thing and shall be legislated into existence, irrespective of resource supply, use, disposal of spent batteries and a dozen other things they personally won’t have to concern themselves about. Modern citizenry has evolved into po-faced individuals unable or unwilling to press back on the horse manure governments feed them, to make them explain themselves in plain language.

    The tone of this article is also relentlessly urban. To those of us who live in more sparesly populated regions, it is yet one more example of the city folk presuming everyone else is just like them. We are not, nor do we appreciate the implicit condescension. Since I’m 71 now, I’ll either be dead or a gibbering senile idiot by the time the next great realization that we bet all the apples on the wrong horse, oops, slowly dawns on the already brain-dead. Monoculture ruins agriculture and soli fertility; relying solely on EVs is also a monoculture and should be erased from our thinking. It is merely one option, not THE option.

    Mazda, btw, is introducing an essentially compression ignition petrol engine next year that will likely change the ICE engine for the future, so all innovation in the field is not dead.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Unless some hitherto unknown technological surprise hits us, i believe the whole move en-mass to the brave EV world will fall flat on its face.
      And I wouldn’t sell short the innumerable engineers around the world looking to extend the life of ICE engines, in some way or another.
      Alternative, renewable fuels might be one option.

    2. Mazda is also proposing a rotary range extender as well, I will believe it when they are in production!

    3. Mazda is also skeptical about the idea of self-driving cars. It´s true there is innovation still in ICE. Isn´t more about incremental refinements now that most of the conceivable engine configurations have been tried?

    4. Engineering is about quantities and is insufficient without qualitative value judgements and vice versa. Generally I see narrow engineering values predominating in planning. Stalinism was engineering thinking applied to planning. We can’t fix our problems without engineers and can’t fix them only with engineering considerations.

    5. Bill if as you admit electric cars are more efficient than petrol cars but the plants and grid are the problem then its time to address that issue with local micro grids. This would cut the efficiency losses of having big plants with long transmission lines which is also a problem.
      With the adoption of home solar the EV compared to the ICE becomes a no brainer, assuming its range fits in with the owner needs.
      Works perfectly for me and the odd time it doesn’t I use other means of transport.

  7. It’s revealing that several comments against electric cars are from those who don’t use them but somehow have already concluded they are to fail and prefer to persevere with century old technology.

  8. Well, Gentlemen, that all got very interesting. Shame we never see a female perspective on all this . . . we certainly saw evidence of other divides: EV/ICE, urban-dweller/country-dweller, to name but two. As a contemporary of Bill Malcolm I can certainly empathise with his frustration with aspects of the “post-truth” era in which most of the human race seems to now exist. And that, surely, is the real problem here. There are far too many of us on the planet and a severe cull is on the cards. Perhaps starting with the disappearance of most of our urban conglomerations and infrastructures beneath rising sea levels. Then those of us in the remoter upper levels will resort to compressing the methane from our personal effluent to continue to run our ICEs . . . I’m off for a lie-down in a darkened room now before I get any sillier.

  9. @D Gatewood

    On the face of it, we have everything at home to run an EV including, unusually, a three-phase 400V industrial power supply in the garage, which can, I understand, be used for faster charging with certain EVs. The problem is that, although our annual mileage is low, we do no commuting but still undertake regular (if not frequent) long (overnight) journeys in both cars. Until the remote charging infrastructure is much more extensive and includes most hotel car parks, then an EV would be too restrictive.

    Indentally, I had my first opportunity to drive a hybrid yesterday. I was given a new Lexus NX 300h as a loan car while the Boxster was in for a service. I’m sorry to report that I was pretty underwhelmed by it. The ride was a bit brittle for a crossover on 18″wheels and quite high profile tyres. That apart, it was quiet at lower speed, but a bit raucous when pushed, thanks to the CVT auto, and the acceleration was pretty tepid. I also used a quarter tank of petrol in 160 miles, so not brilliantly economical either.

    The future is likely to be EVs, but not hybrids, at least judging by this experience.

    1. Daniel its sad your first experience was in a hybrid and not a PHEV or pure EV which are different drives completely. As regards to long range there are now affordable EV’s available with an easy 235-250 mile range. If you reside in the UK one supplier has 6584 charge locations with 10541 devices feeding 18505 connectors. There are also 4000 AA Hotels and B&Bs with points.
      An alternative is a PHEV which would provide the full electric experience for all your weekly driving and further jaunts would be done partially using petrol with the option of recharging if convenient, remember if empty an 80% charge will happen within 20 to 30 min. If you visit friends the cars have low speed charge cables that fit a standard 13 amp socket but will take several hours to fill if fully discharged.
      Having first owned two different types of hybrid I progressed to a pure electric with 90 mile range, then a PHEV that provided 40 miles electric or 500 plus total using petrol and electric I have finally settled on my present steed which is 90 mile EV with 90 miles petrol range extender. In eight months I’ve used two gallons of petrol which means I have come close to my ideal of being full electric but with the ability to go beyond.
      Hope this sheds a bit of light on the subject.

  10. Good morning, D Gatewood. Thank you for the above, which is very interesting and helpful. You’ve clearly done your homework and come up with the optimal solution for your circumstances. I guess I need to pay more attention and question my prejudices in this regard. I’ve always been a “late adopter” of new technologies, preferring to let others take the pain of dealing with imperfect technology or worse, dead ends.

    I’ve read some reviews of the Lexus hybrid and they align with my experience. As you rightly say, it’s a shame that was my introduction to the brave new world. Anyway, thanks again, you’ve persuaded me to explore further!

  11. Honda: 20 years too early.

    The 1997 EV Plus looks charming, and was where the 2012 Renault Zoe started out in terms of range (in sunny California, admittedly). It had heat pump heating, remote heating / cooling via the key fob plus a remote charge indicator, also via the key fob. Amazing.

    1. I drove one of these cars, by the way and have photos to prove it. The Honda appeared to be a completely ordinary small car and that was its genius. GM´s EV-1 looked like a space ship (and I liked that) but I think Honda´s approach worked better. Tesla did the same: nothing to scare the horses.

    2. I think you’re very lucky to have driven it. It even has Focus-like design elements, before the Focus appeared.

    3. The same goes for the EV-1. Both were landmark cars. I do like the styling of the Honda – it´s very disciplined. Did anyone notice the clothing style of the driver? Were people really wearing that in 1997? I really have so little recollection of the middle 90s as regards fashion. It´s a bit of a sargasso sea period. Googling 90s fashion doesn´t produce something that is typical, normal and definitive. The same applies to interior design too: I went to an exhibition about Danish homes and from 1900 onto the 1980s their “typical” sitting room displays rung true. The 1990s one looked like it only existed in a magazine. And among the 1990s magazines there for me to look through there wasn´t anything that had widespread dissemination. Car design though did have a typical 90s look, much more so even than product design.

  12. Yes – ‘90s design – softer shapes and brighter colours. The comedian, Tim Vine, used to host a train-wreck quiz in the ‘90s, called ‘Whittle’. The graphics, etc, are very ‘90s. The quiz starts with a Donald Trump joke, which is very weird.

    1. I stopped watching television in 1997. And to judge by that I didn´t miss anything.
      The colours are pastel, I notice. Vine´s jacket has three buttons – I had one of those.

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