Electric vs. gas: EVs are the future but gasoline engines might be here to stay

Are vehicle brands willing to completely discontinue conventional cars if most buyers aren't too keen on making the switch?

Dave Kunz Image
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Electric vs. gas: In an EV future, do gasoline engines have a place?
Are vehicle brands willing to completely discontinue conventional cars if most buyers aren't too keen on making the switch?

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hyundai has a big hit on its hands with the new Ioniq 5, a pure electric plug-in car, and they'll have more Ioniq EV models on the way.

They've also got a hit with the gasoline-powered Palisade mid-size SUV. It's been a hot commodity since it first went on sale in 2019.

So how will they reconcile a push by governments like the state of California to go all electric if people still want cars that run on gasoline?

"All these car companies are positioning themselves to have electric cars, boast about electric cars, and tout their electric cars," said Karl Brauer, an executive analyst at research site iSeeCars.com. "I don't know how many of them are going to walk away from their internal combustion engines before the market is truly ready."

It's not just Hyundai. Nearly every brand is going to have electric models.

Mercedes-Benz is busy rolling out a slew of battery vehicles, including mid-size and full-size sedans and SUVs.

But are they willing to completely discontinue conventional cars if a lot of buyers aren't too keen to make the switch?

"It would be much better to have this take place organically, rather than driven by some 'vision' that isn't realistic for average mainstream consumer," Brauer said.

One of Mercedes-Benz's newer gasoline engines is an inline six cylinder with direct injection, turbocharging, and even a mild hybrid system.

It's both powerful and efficient, effectively replacing larger engines in some of Mercedes' car and SUV lines.

This type of engine could exist many years into the future.

The companies are coming up with completely new engines too.

A longer-wheelbase version of Jeep's new flagship SUV, the Grand Wagoneer, has debuted a new twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter six cylinder called Hurricane.

Less than half the size of the Wagoneer's other engine, a 6.4 liter V8, but making 510 horsepower (compared with 471 for the V8), with lower carbon output.

Parent company Stellantis has plans to use this engine in other vehicles from the Jeep line, as well as Ram trucks.

The all-new engine was designed for lots of applications going forward, and could be adapted into a plug-in hybrid arrangement in most vehicles. Even California's 2035 electric car mandate allows for plug-in hybrid versions of gasoline vehicles, so the new Hurricane engine could have a very long life cycle.

"I'm a huge fan of plug-in hybrid vehicles," said Brauer. "You get all the benefits of an electric vehicle for between 20 and 50 miles, and you get all the benefits of an internal combustion vehicle for the rest of your 300, 400, 500 mile range."

That 2035 mandate is a little more than 12 years away.

That gives drivers plenty of time for the ongoing debate about gasoline vehicles versus electric.