I just saw Oppenheimer (pretty good, but it’s no Barbie), and naturally the film included the phrase “you can’t put the atomic genie back in the bottle.” Thankfully that genie hasn’t done much (bomb-wise, anyway) since WWII, but the electric-car genie? Well, that guy has been busy. If anyone out there is still thinking or hoping EVs are going to go away–surely no one who visits this site regularly–rest assured EVs are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean everything with a fuel-burning engine will soon be carrying a battery and motor, or that the millions of ICE cars and trucks on the road today will be pried away from those who prefer them, or that every type of vehicle than can be electric-powered will be offered exclusively so if there are sufficient customers who want or need a fuel-burning model.
Here are two categories of possible ICE holdouts that come to mind: overlanders and muscle/sports cars. (Pssst, you can read about the Lexus rig pictured above right here, and Thomas has the 2024 Mustang GT review here). Yes, the effortless torque and precise throttle control of electric power makes EV off-roaders spectacularly capable machines, and there’s plenty of range to keep you rolling. But if you’re also burning up battery to run your campsite night after night, and don’t plan on being anywhere near a form of civilization that includes a charging network, maybe ICE power and a large-capacity fuel tank (and/or extra containers of fuel) is the better recipe for extended adventure in the wild. As for muscle cars and sports cars, you already get it: the sound and feel of an ICE engine is massive part of the car’s personality and the satisfaction of the driving experience (even more so when coupled to a manual gearbox). “But even a basic EV is sooo much faster and more powerful than many of those ‘muscle’ cars!” Well, let’s just let Corvette Man take the mic here:
Now, will there be enough actual demand for even boutique ICE options to be viable in these categories in the future? Who’s to say. Motorcycles might be a different story; as Harley-Davidson has been demonstrating for decades, a great many riders are in it for an “authentic” experience, not the latest tech or a maximalist approach to performance. And no rider who appreciates the experience of riding something like a Yamaha RD350 with its screaming 2-stroke parallel twin or a Honda CBX and its glorious combination of jet-like thrust and butter-smoothness (and F1 exhaust note) will ever put these steeds on Facebook Marketplace because their new battery-bike is quicker to 60mph.
[Editor’s Note: Peter also made this image of a two-stroke Saab 92 and its DKW-inspired engine, and I think that’s also got its own sort of appeal, especially in a hypothetical mostly-EV-era:
…so I’m putting it back in. Maybe David told Peter to lose it? Too bad! – JT]
[Author’s Note: I took it out myself, along with a few sentences about the Saab 92. Because you gotta murder your darlings. -PV]
[Editor’s Note: I’m going to say my answer to this question is off-road vehicles, mostly because I believe the best off-road vehicles have solid axles, and the reality is that EVs are just not going to have them. My off-roader of choice will always have two live axles, meaning it will always be an ICE (or a homemade EV with solid axles). -DT].
So, The Autopian Asks:
What Types Of ICE Vehicles Will Remain Appealing Deep Into The Electric Car Era?
To the comments!