A record number of combustion-engine vehicles sold in 2018, but what do the coming years have in store for the technology? Many experts are predicting the past year will prove a high water mark for the gas engine, and that 2019 will see the beginnings of a slow decline in sales of vehicles equipped with gasoline-fed powertrains.
We emphasize the ”slow” in that prediction, of course, but the emergence of electric vehicles and their fast-rising popularity in certain markets, not to mention the commitments made to the technology by many of the world’s biggest automakers, it seems reasonable to think that in 2019, the hegemony of the gas engine will start to weaken.
We’ve seen this before, or at least a version of it: not that many years ago cars ruled the roost over SUVs. In retrospect the transformation seems like it was inevitable.
Another factor that will impact the performance of combustion-engine vehicles is the expected slowdown of car sales globally, a decline that actually began midway through 2018. Beyond that there’s a veritable pile-on of factors – the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit, the Iran embargo and changing emissions standards in many European countries – that will all tend to pull car sales downwards in 2019.
All of which creates an opening for electric vehicles, which are increasing their market share versus combustion-engine vehicles, to gain even more ground. Hence the consensus among many experts that 2018 will likely prove to a high-water mark for sales of gas-engine models, never to be equaled again.
This doesn’t mean that vehicles running on gasoline won’t still be found on our roads for years or even decades to come. But at some point, we might be looking back as 2019 as the turning point, the year when the venerable combustion-engine technology started its fall from the pinnacle.