End of the road for Carl Benz's classic invention?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

On Jan. 29, 1886, patent number 37435 was issued to Carl Benz for a “vehicle powered by a gas engine.”

The tw0-seat vehicle was powered by a single-cylinder four-stroke engine, powering two rear wheels through a differential, with an electrical ignition and water cooling.

Other than lacking a fourth wheel and other details, it’s not unlike the one that’s sitting in your driveway right now.

Electric car company Tesla recently began selling a more affordable version of it’s electric car, and most major car makers offer hybrid or all-electric vehicles, but one major manufacturer, Volvo, is the first to abandon conventional internal combustion drive trains altogether.

Volvo hopes to sell a million electrified cars by 2025 including fully electric vehicles and hybrid cars.

‘This announcement marks the end of a solely combustion engine-powered car,” CEO Hakan Samuelsson said.

“People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs,” he said.

Volvo has been building cars since 1927 and is famous for station wagons and safety features, but the move to electric cars shouldn’t be a surprise.

Since 2010, it has been owned by Geely of China, a country that is a leader in electric cars and especially battery technology.

Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway is a believer, investing in another Chinese electric car and battery company.

Internal combustion isn’t going away completely any time soon, and battery technology still limits utility of limited-range all-electric vehicles in places like rural Nebraska.

But better batteries and options like hydrogen-powered fuel cells as well as hybrids mean days are limited for the technology pioneered by Carl Benz.

We can guess, but we really can’t predict all the ramifications the shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles will have.

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