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Internal combustion engine to remain motor of choice through 2050, study finds

The internal combustion engine will remain the dominant power source for vehicles until at least 2050.

Despite a push to battery and hydrogen-powered vehicles, the internal combustion engine will power most cars until at least 2050, a new study has found.

The internal combustion engine has been powering cars for more than a century, but a study by the National Petroleum Council finds that the technology has plenty of life left. With the help of continued improvements, the council believes that the internal combustion engine will remain the dominant power source for vehicles until at least 2050.

The recent implementation of technologies like direct-injection and turbocharging have vastly improved the efficiency of internal combustion engines but the study, commissioned by the Energy Department, found that efficiencies could be improved by another 90 percent. Those gains could be made through combining internal combustion engines with electric motors as well as further vehicle weight reductions.

A co-author of the report told Automotive News that "it's too soon to choose" which technology is poised to knock the internal combustion engine from its perch atop the industry, but the report notes that cars powered by compressed natural gas pose the biggest threat, especially if prices remain low.