What is the future of internal combustion in cars?

I have mixed feelings about the EU’s decision to ban the sale of new cars powered by an internal combustion engine in some way from 2035 onwards (except for manufacturers with an annual output of <1,000 cars). My head thinks it’s too late (because the effects of climate change would almost certainly be even worse than they are now), and my heart thinks it’s too soon (because EV technology and infrastructure is not yet mature).


In any case, this landmark decision has not yet been reciprocated in other major markets, such as Australia and North America, nor does it address the elephant in the room of the sheer number of internal combustion-powered cars (and other vehicles) that will still be in use by 2035 (and even for decades afterward). That’s why efforts are underway to develop synthetic fuel just to ensure that they can remain in use for a long time to come, as the next article shows:

The one major caveat is that governments could close this loophole by making it completely illegal to use an internal combustion-powered car on any public road, or even to own one at all, and this could be extended to cover all civilian transport (not just road vehicles) - surely the most short-sighted decision imaginable (even more so than a complete ban on the sale of new ICE cars) considering the lack of EV infrastructure even in more developed countries and the limited resources available to build and support them. But I hope this dystopian scenario never comes to pass, and in that case, a synthetic fuel boom could actually be more beneficial for the environment than any of us expected.

What do you think about this decision? Are you in favor of it, against it, or both, and why? Please let me know.


I don’t think it makes sense that internal combustion engines should be entirely obsoleted. And maybe I am ignorant, but it makes sense to me that they would be the best for specific applications.

But I do think that by around 2035 what we’re seeing as the future will be the state of the industry. Most consumer vehicles are going to be electric. I am in the US, and I don’t think it would be popular policy to ban the sale of combustion engines, but rather policy will make it a generally infeasible alternative for most people.

I have heard a lot of people even here in Texas make the argument that hybrids are their perception of the best “third way”, especially people concerned about long distances and rural travel. I drive a Prius and not a few people have indicated that they’d drive that before they’d drive electric. Which I think is quite a strong statement considering people really do not tend to like the Prius at all.

As for where I stand, I do support us moving on from internal combustion engines as a matter of climate mitigation and the instability of the world market when it is deprived of gasoline. But I think banning their sale outright, even by 2035 is farther than what I could sign up for.

It’s the right trajectory at least, so we will see how things play out.


I just watched a Scott Manley video from about 3 weeks ago in which he discusses (toward the second half of the video) the use of synthetic fuels for airplanes. You may be interested.

I don’t think the world will give up the internal combustion engine. It’s not even a question of ecology or global warming. Besides, I read somewhere that the recycling of electric car batteries also has a very negative impact on the environment. I think that was Volkswagen’s comment when they presented the new Golf. They said that their 1.5 liter golf is less polluting than disposing of the battery from one electric car. I don’t know how true that is, but that’s the information I definitely read.
I myself drive a Tesla Y. I like this car and the range is totally fine with me. I always liked the acceleration in electric cars. I’ve been driving electric cars for about 5 years now and I still can’t stop being amazed by it.