ExxonMobil: Combustion engines not on their way out yet

Vehicles powered by combustion engines will not disappear from German streets as quickly as policymakers hope, a study by oil major ExxonMobil has shown. A rise in inner-city freight transport will slow their exit.

Two-thirds of vehicles in Germany would still be powered by internal combustion engines in 2040, oil company ExxonMobil predicted on Monday.

Nature and Environment | 01.03.2018

It said some 20 percent of cars in use could be electric by then, but because of the continued demand for trucks transporting goods and accounting for about a quarter of all road traffic, gas engines would still be essential to the economy in over 20 years from now, as would diesel engines despite recent controversies.

The study forecast that freight traffic via roads would increase by a quarter by 2040, thus slowing the exit of combustion engines.

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Conflict of interest?

ExxonMobil also looked at how industry-related emissions were likely to develop over the next couple of decades.

The survey said the output of CO2 may halve by 2040 compared with 1990 levels. It argued that coal would become a lot less important for electricity generation, with its share sinking from 45 percent at present to just 15 percent.

But with natural gas gaining in importance in the decades ahead, CO2 emissions will still be too high for the German government to meet its reduction targets. Berlin had pledged a 70-percent reduction in emissions by 2040.

As it published its latest energy outlook, ExxonMobil saw a Massachusetts top court rejecting its bid to block investigators from obtaining records on whether the firm had concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels were playing in climate change.

The forthcoming probe will investigate if the oil firm's marketing or sale of fossil fuel products violated the US state's consumer protection legislation.

Who even needs a car these days?

Welcome to the traffic jam!

Germans are as attached to their forms of transport as the English are to their monarchy. No wonder: Gottlieb Daimler invented the modern car; Nicolaus August Otto co-invented the internal combustion engine. Every child knows the brands Daimler, BMW, Audi and VW, and that motorways were first built in Germany. But transport systems will become greener and more flexible, traffic researchers say. 

Who even needs a car these days?

The city of tomorrow

Since 2008, more people live in cities than in rural areas, and that trend is increasing. Urban zones will become CO2-neutral, climate-adapted, digitized and automated, Fraunhofer Morgenstadt Initiative researchers say. Networking will encourage more efficient means of transport, the sharing economy will catch on, mobility will become a service. No more need for your own car.

Who even needs a car these days?

Smart — the age of digitization

With worldwide networking possible via the internet, cities and traffic systems can be coordinated. This could mean automatically switching traffic lights according to the flow of vehicles. Sensors could transmit data and prevent vehicles from hitting each other, thus avoiding accidents. Servicing, maintenance, insurance and parking meters may become unnecessary.

Who even needs a car these days?

Traditionally safe versus digitally self-driving

Will Amazon, Google and others become the new carmakers and put the drivers in the back seat? Interesting question — although self-driving cars have recently been dealt a setback. Testing at US company Uber was suspended after a self-driving car ran over a woman by night.

Who even needs a car these days?

Goodbye to road rage?

Today the streets are clogged, lights are red, you're stuck in a traffic jam, going to miss that appointment. Car horns, anger, insults: that's stressful. But rage and provocation could become things of the past if self-driving cars become the norm. Then, passengers can sit back and laugh about the old days.

Who even needs a car these days?

The rise of the platform

Order your ride or taxi by app. Public and collective transport is increasingly being organized via the internet. You can even pay for the service through your smartphone.

Who even needs a car these days?

Discontinued model

The car's future is electric, that seems to be the consensus; the only question is, when? Despite investing billions into e-cars, there's a lack of options and sites for charging electric vehicles. Together with high costs, consumers are concerned. Alternatives to e-cars could fill the gap: fuel-electric hybrids, and other vehicles powered by hydrogen or synthetic fuels.

Who even needs a car these days?

Yellow goes green

Postal workers are climate-friendly when they deliver letters by foot or bike, but for parcels they need vehicles. Deutsche Post (DHL) and Aachen Technical University have invented the CO2-free StreetScooters, powered by renewable energy. One of the challenges of the future is to make sure the electricity used in electric vehicles is also climate-friendly.

Who even needs a car these days?

Jack of all trades

It looks a little like a Smart car, but it's actually an e-bike on four wheels. The Podride is 1.8 meters (6 feet) long and has a closed cab with a comfy seat. It travels file on snow and ice, it's heated, it can manage steep and uneven slopes, and there is even storage space. The driver steers by way of two levers at the seat and pedals to power the rear wheels with help from the electric motor.

Who even needs a car these days?

Autonomous flying car project

From many clever minds comes a clever idea. A dozen companies are developing personal aircraft. This rocket-like Vahana flying car prototype from Airbus is designed to beam a passenger along at 9,150 meters (30,000 feet) altitude, reaching speeds of 480 kilometers (298 miles) per hour. Battery swaps would be like Formula 1 pit stops: quick landings, and on you go.

Who even needs a car these days?

E-mobile in the air

The Bauhaus Luftfahrt association is developing an airport and aircraft concept. The Ce liner would be power by two electric engines with aerodynamically efficient C-shape wings. Inner-city airports of the future would be arranged over several levels to save on space, with lift-off from the top level and battery charging on lower floors.

Who even needs a car these days?

The steepest funicular in the world

The Swiss mountain village of Stoos boasts the steepest cable railway in the world. It rises up 744 meters in altitude as it travels 1.7 kilometers in just four minutes. The village has 150 permanent residents, but 2,000 hotel beds for visitors to come and enjoy the view in the car-free resort. Maybe someday the Himalayas will have a similar system?

Who even needs a car these days?

The mobility revolution is in full swing

Can you imagine the world without your own car? Until now, the car has represented prosperity and independence. But experts see mobility as becoming smart in the near future, with cars being used by multiple users and forming just one part of a range of mobility offerings.

hg/jbh (dpa, Reuters)