QOTD: To Gas or Not to Gas?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Last week we brought you news that Fiat is bringing gas back -- and we also discussed Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru's decision to back off from full electrification.

Meanwhile, Nissan says it won't invest in any new gas engines.

What's going on?

Or, more to the point of this article -- what is the appropriate strategy for automakers to pursue going forward?

There are a lot of moving parts here -- not least of which who will be president next year. The Biden administration has a much different approach to electrifying the fleet than a second Trump administration would.

Not to mention that Chinese competition may come to our shores -- pending tariffs, of course.

There are also the technology and infrastructure aspects. Could hydrogen fuel cells take off? Will an increase in available EV chargers help spur EV growth?

I think we can all agree that there will continue to be more battery-electric vehicles on the market, but the growth of EVs may slow. Electrification efforts may shift even more towards hybrid/plug-in hybrids.

Put yourself in the shoes of an OEM product planner. What would you do in terms of future powertrain planning?

Sound off below.

[Image: Nissan]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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16 of 130 comments
  • Joe Chiaramonte Joe Chiaramonte on Jun 04, 2024

    Remember, it’s still not an either-or choice: EV or ICE. We’re finishing the first week of a three week Southwest US driving tour: seven states, eight National Parks. With our 2023 Sorento HEV, during a twisty, slight downhill run from Torrey, Utah, to Moab, Utah, I observed a high of 511 MPG. We wrapped up the day over 45 MPG. When I topped off the tank, it yielded 622 miles of range. Every day, I’m seeing daily averages over 30 MPG climbing and descending mountain ranges. This, for a three row, 4200 pound (unloaded) SUV with AWD.

    • See 4 previous
    • EBFlex EBFlex on Jun 05, 2024

      "Stop the world, but I agree with something Flex wrote"

      See, the truth is your friend.

      I would love a PHEV and would buy one in e a heartbeat*. But I need on that can tow a boat or roughly 7K pounds. And the price would have to be reasonable.

      But the thought of not using fuel for most of my driving is wonderful. But I will not buy a second automobile and pay yearly registration, maintenance, insurance, etc to drive 4 miles to work every day and not use fuel. Thats called being very stupid.

  • Rover Sig Rover Sig on Jun 04, 2024

    The list of reasons why EVs are not good for much - except golf carts and urban delivery vehicles/short range commuter cars - is lengthy and compelling. And the electrical grid - in many areas still dependent on coal - won't be able to support them. I remembers when the example from enlightened Europe was "go diesel" and American car builders tried that on us. Today, diesel is dead for private automobiles, and the hysteria has moved on to EVs. Better, cheaper fuels await the day the government regulators allow the market to operate freely and give up on telling us what to drive.

    • See 6 previous
    • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Jun 05, 2024

      look at the acceleration times for EVs vs. 'comparable' ICE.

      One single arrow in your quiver, and you and your ilk pull it again and again. You have nothing else, but understand that the world is past all of this. Nobody cares about acceleration times like you think they do.

  • Macca Macca on Jun 04, 2024

    To me it seems like the current EV conundrum is at least partially driven by a standoff between the manufacturer and the consumer, complicated by regulations (and the laws of physics).

    There is an identity crisis as to the ideal EV. To some, it is a decidedly non-luxury city-friendly compact that isn’t intended for long highway trips – these have struggled to consistently find buyers in the US. To others, they’re still mostly viewed as a luxury toy – perhaps their ideal is a $250k luxury sedan with 1,234 HP that can blast to 60 MPH in 1.9 seconds, or even a 8,600 lb SUV. We see more excitement toward the latter end of the spectrum – with such examples occupying the same spot as the ultra-lux/sports/’fun’ car of yesteryear. To me, EVs make more sense on the humble side of the spectrum, but wealthy buyers don't want to merely eek along with the hoi polloi in a tiny EV.

    I don’t bemoan choice, after all, ICE runs a similar gamut from the Mirage to the Chiron. It does appear, though, that the would-be Leaf-class buyer continues to be alienated (a group admittedly middling in number). Those considering a $29k Leaf seem to either find an efficient ICE/hybrid (perhaps a $24k Corolla Hybrid or $28k Camry Hybrid) -or- they have the funds to move up to a newer platform/larger/more powerful/greater range EV in a higher price bracket. A Leaf in the driveway, after all, doesn’t stoke envy – to most folks it looks like a Versa hatch – at best you might get a hug from a polar bear.

    Some of the legacy automakers drawing the deepest line in the sand on ending ICE (Jaguar, for example) are already extreme niche marques struggling to maintain a brand identity (and to move metal). If your aging lineup is already a toy/luxury purchase and sales are floundering, why not attempt a rebirth to cater to the high-end EV buyer? Folks are lined up none-deep to buy the $73k I-Pace – so is there a budding Jaguar-EV owner base?

    There seems to be a bit of survivorship bias in that some manufacturers see ‘strong’ sales in the upper-5-figure $$ register of EVs and think that’s the heart of the market. Instead, it seems that the still-exotic nature of EVs skews EV-intending consumers to higher tax brackets (and thusly higher-end EVs). Tesla has seemingly pulled off an established, diverse lineup with some 'affordable' models. Hyundai has made decent sales with the Ioniq 5/6. The Big Three Two are struggling with brand identity and approach (as usual).

    EVs aren’t mainstream enough to acquire the economy buyer at scale (yet?) so I would, as others have said, take a MOR approach with hybrids like Toyota and let other mfg's step on the rake. Rumors of ICE's death are greatly exaggerated.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 06, 2024

    If someone offered an ICE vehicle with the advanced engine technology and fuel economy of a Subaru, the reliability of a VW, the fragility of a Honda transmission and the heft of a Mazda, that would be a very compelling package. Maybe sell it at a Ford dealership.