Why gas-powered cars aren’t going away


The internal combustion engine has been around more than a century. And it should be around for decades to come, despite Volvo’s announcement Wednesday that it will move away from cars powered only by gasoline.

“It’s hard to find technology that is better suited for cars,” said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “The idea that we are moving completely away from internal combustion is completely exaggerated.”

Read also:Volvo: Gas cars are history after 2019

There is no doubt that electric cars are becoming more popular. Prices are becoming more competitive with traditional gasoline-powered cars.

And Lindland and other experts say several factors will move the industry toward even greater use of electric motors, including tougher environmental regulations and the desire for self-driving cars, which will need more electrical juice for all their computing needs.

But eliminating the gas engine altogether will be difficult, if not impossible.

The first reason is profitability. The stock of tiny Tesla (TSLA) may be worth more than either General Motors (GM) or Ford (F), but it has yet to report an annual profit. Traditional automakers are making billions of dollars selling millions of gasoline-powered cars each. No one has yet figured out a way to make a profit selling electric-only vehicles.

It was only recently that anyone offered an electric-only car at a competitive price that can go more than 200 miles on a single charge. The Chevrolet Bolt went on sale late last year, and the Tesla Model 3 will soon start rolling off the production line. Those companies will at least initially lose money on those cars.