This Company Plans To Slow Down EV Uptake And Battle Tesla

JUL 25 2018 BY EVANNEX 88


Big Oil isn’t ready to cede the automotive market to companies like Tesla. After all, vehicle electrification poses a potential threat to their business. Just how serious is that threat? Wood Mackenzie, one of the world’s most influential oil consultancies, forecasts (via Financial Times) that oil demand will peak within 20 years due to a “tectonic” shift in the transport sector as electric vehicles gain traction.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: A Tesla parked in front of oil wells (Image: Tesla Owner)

Some oil companies, like Shell and BP, have started to pivot in order to address these changes. They’ve begun to embrace an “energy transition” and, in some cases, even bet on electric vehicle charging. However, the Financial Times notes that others, like Saudi Aramco, have grown “more hesitant… [and] have pushed back against the idea that demand for their primary products could stop growing.”

Furthermore, according to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Aramco is “trying to protect its market share by slowing a potential exodus to electric vehicles.” How? It’s reported that “the world’s largest oil company has 30 engineers working away in [a] Detroit suburb on a project that sounds counterintuitive: an engine that burns less oil.”

Above: At this year’s Detroit Auto Show, CNET reported on a prototype Achates engine that Aramco plans to test in a fleet of its vehicles (Youtube: Roadshow)

It turns out that Saudi Aramco is working to “build better combustion engines as electric cars threaten market share of vehicles running on gas [and] diesel.” To that end, “David Cleary, head of Saudi Aramco’s Detroit Research Center, said the company’s goal with its research is to preserve the market for fuel.”

Mr. Cleary says, “We are trying to get technology into production, and we want to be very fast.” In response to Saudi Aramco’s efforts, oil economist Phil Verleger notes, “If they can make engines more efficient, they can slow the loss of market share.”

Above: A look at the internal combustion engine (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

“Why is this the right thing to do?” asked Mr. Cleary rhetorically. “We are going to be using internal combustion engines. Let’s make them better.”


Source: Financial TimesWall Street Journal

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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88 Comments on "This Company Plans To Slow Down EV Uptake And Battle Tesla"

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As if the world’s leading automotive engineers haven’t been working on this problem for over a century. If efficient ICE was anywhere near the top of ICE world’s priorities, all ICE engines would have been hybrid already. After all, hybrid technology has been viable for two decades. They scarcely need some secret team of Aramco engineers for this.

Besides, policymakers and big fleet managers around the world are already looking beyond ICE for reasons that won’t be affected by a few percent efficiency improvement.

This type of article calls for some editorial skepticism or even humor in the presentation. Some people may miss the irony.

If anyone in the auto industry were really working on efficiency, the F150 wouldn’t have become the gargantuan monster truck it’s become.
They don’t sell efficiency.
They sell ridiculous corner-case power requirements, so the suckers buy.
Almost as if the CEO’s were bribed.

This is going nowhere unless Aramco also buys Ford.

I would counter that Ford wants Ford dealers, who want cars they can sell AND service (for profit, like any company). There isn’t much profit in selling cars, but in servicing them. There is so much more money in servicing ICE, training service departments, selling service departments parts and tools, and then Tesla goes and claims to NOT make service a P/L.

Service and used cars, bring in a healthy profit for dealers.

Right on target.

actually, a number of highly efficient engines have turned up recently.
My favorite is Liquid Piston.

There is a place for efficient ICE.
Of course, not on general purpose vehicles.

Where then?

Experimental vehicles and concept cars, where the auto maker isn’t concerned with unit cost.

As Assaf already said, if it was practical to make significant efficiency improvements in an ICEngine, then that would have been accomplished decades ago.

Hopefully “efficient ICE” gets installed into the dust bin of history, before mankind decides to try and cut ahead, in trying to get to the front of the line!

impossible. We need them for at least another 30-50 years.
BUT, they should not be used for general purpose vehicles.
Commercial and passenger vehicles that run on roads have no need for ICE.
BUT, off-roads, really do have a need. And if we switch to EVs TODAY, and all the off-roads were series based ICE with the liquid piston, it would not even be NOTICEABLE in the air. It would be less than Aircrafts or boats. That is how little there really is.

That is the right question. Military for starters. RVs, EMS, etc come quickly to mind. Construction. Basically, anything off-road. I have written several companies in the past to suggest that they produce a series hybrid, but with multiple eng-gens. IOW, imagine a hummer with say 3-4 small eng-gens of 100 KW each and small 25 kwh battery and of course 2 motors. If you are on the field, under fire and you lose an eng-gen, you can still continue going, just slower. In addition, if enemy has any heat seekers, then simply have the vehicle rotate amongst 2 of the eng-gens to keep heat much lower, every 2-3 minutes. Likewise, all your bases could stock more 100 KW eng-gens, and then simply swap broken for running, and then fix the broken. Keep in mind that a small 100 KW eng-gen, esp with liquid pistons, would weigh under 100 kg. 1 guy could pull that out easily enough, if designed correctly. Think about the RVs. Same 4 eng-gens, 25 kwh battery, 2 motors. No large engine and separate generator. The same 4 eng-gen/batteries run the motor as well as the RV. Plug-in and it runs the RV, as well as charges… Read more »

ICE efficiency _is_ improving a bit, but hybrids have price premium that doesn’t necessary pay off in low gas tax environment like US, unless you drive more than average.

Payoff would be better in the rest of the world with high gas taxes, but the problem is that people there tend to drive much less. So you are left with taxis again. Although Toyota has dropped hybrid price premium recently in Europe, and making maybe half of the sales as hybrid versions. So hopefully it will improve in the future (maybe).

Tax is irrelevant, if EVs become a major component of the market, they will be taxed at simialr rates to ICE cars. It is shortsighted to assume governments will lose their revenue from autos due to switching to EVs.

So far, the GOP is fighting raising taxes on vehicles esp ICE, and instead are pushing to replace gas taxes with general revenue taxes.
Total BS on that.

they are right that economics will drive large scale ev adoption. once the enthusiast and environmentally conscious buy them which is maybe 5% of the market, it will be cost and economics after that.

Already blowing past that here in California. I predict nearly 8% of sales will be plug-ins this year here and I could see 20% by the end of 2020.

If a side effect of the threat of EVs is ever more efficient ICEs, that sounds ok to me.

It would be a perfect engine for a BMW REX type solution across the industry.

Soon the REx will be dead.

BMW i3 is going see a big battery upgrade and then there will be little reason to buy the i3 REx vs the 100% Electric i3.

This mostly already happened with the last battery upgrade, shifting sales from predominantly REx to predominantly battery-only.

Yep, I read a review a couple weeks ago and the reviewer recommended saving the money spent on the REx for paying for a fast charge or two.

REX a Dinosaur ..0f Prehistoric times

The last I read, BMW is intentionally planning on killing the REX option with their next battery upgrade. They aren’t going to wait for poor sales, they are going to pull the plug (pull the filling hose?) on the REX before the sales dwindle.

I’m still hoping someone will make a combined-cycle gas turbine range extender 😉

Looking at the size of that thing, I doubt it.

Not really. A more efficient ICE is good, but hopefully car makers will not use that on regular cars.
The faster that we move to EV, the better.

I would just add, someone at Aramco better test drive a Tesla first.

This is Hilarious BS …..lmao……….I’ll take an EV anytime! Too many moving Parts on ICE …This Heater is Old Tec.. It’s Past Due Time, To move Forward ! ..The ICE was man’s worst invention , It caused more HARM THAN GOOD for the general public ., As the manipulating Few GOT FILTHY RICH By it…

It fueled most of the technology growth through the last century. Including Li-ion and Solar.

Yes, and horses conquered the West. So?

because without ICE, we would still have had steam engines. VERY polluting.

There is also inertia. The public generally know about ICE and accepts them. Inertia is powerful, look at the 3k oil change, ‘tune-ups’, and NOT following the manufacturers maintenance schedule over what Uncle Joe says…

OK, I’m going to hawk this thread until Mister G responds.
“If they can make engines more efficient, they can slow the loss of market share”

That’s so confidence-building. Heck, Cummins has an EV program now. Harley-Davidson has a BEV motorcycle on the horizon. If Saudi Arabia isn’t about oil anymore, what relevance do they have in the global economy, if any? At least Dubai has jumped on the financial services and investments market.

Donald Putin will subsidize them because it will be our fault oil is not in demand.

I don’t know…I think it would be more effective to hire trolls to work internet forums specifically targeting Tesla. They could split the bill with shorters doing the same thing, ROFLOL!

Someone else is already doing that so no need.

Yeah, the Russian troll farms are probably already doing that, “ROFLOL”, as part of Putin’s plan to promote use of fossil fuels and to throw fuel on the fire of divisive issues in American social media.

The next time you read a post from an anti-Tesla troll, ask yourself who is paying the troll’s salary.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I will no longer suck OPEC junk!

Connect the Dots…….or something like what Mr. G always posts……..LMAO

What are u talking about?! Aren’t you on ICE still?

“the world’s largest oil company has 30 engineers working away in [a] Detroit suburb on a project that sounds counterintuitive: an engine that burns less oil.”

Um, I understand that there have been a good many engineers working in Downtown Detroit for several decades already, working on this very problem. In fact, the most radical designs have been showing up at the Shell Eco Challenge for nigh on 50 years now. Too bad they’re not remotely what the public is willing to pay for.

But good luck with that.


In other news, horse breeders team up to create a new breed that eat less, plans to battle ICE cars. /s

It was never a hay problem, it was a manure problem. Horses are expensive, though, they cost around $250-$300 /month to own and maintain. Also, it isn’t like you can trot into a dealer and get everything taken care of, servicing a horse is highly specialized. Veterinarians tend not to be farriers. You need a supplier for the hay/fuel, and prices vary drastically because you’re buying a crop. Also, their range sucks, they can’t do much more than 60 miles a day. Really, if you’re thinking horses, you’re better off riding a bicycle or some sort of pedicycle. The ride will be more comfortable, and they can handle urban terrain better than a horse; don’t listen to the neigh-sayers on that one!

Less feed is less manure, and less activity in the gut on higher energy feed equals more range. i think think the chances for success are high. /snicker


Well considering that super anti-Tesla troll and Seeking Shorter propagandist “Montana Skeptic” was just exposed as Lawrence Fossi(l)- Fuel), a director of the private foundation (headquartered in the NY Dump Tower LMAO) for megalomaniac Pharma Bro Stewart Rahr, and is heavily invested in oil–I’m not surprised that the shills, shorters and haters (i.e Saudis), are really now going all in to at least slow the EV progress led Tesla relentless growth of compelling EVs, if not stop it entirely. Apparently Lawrence Fossi(l)-Fuel) is no longer posting his raging serial anti-Tesla FUD all over the internet under and twitter under multiple usernames any more and I have noticed a dearth of similar FUD postings by some of the biggest InsideEvs trolls like David “Green” lately so there is a nice side effect of the take down of Montana Skeptic. BTW, Even Pulitzer Prize winning WSJ auto journalist Dan Neil was relentlessly attacked on twitter, led by Lawrence Fossi(l)-Fuel) after his glowing review of the Model 3 to the point that Dan closed his twitter! The campaign against EVs and Tesla as the leading light of EVs in particular is real folks as the Koch-Heads and the rest of the Koch-Suckers, Saudis,… Read more »

I wish insideevs limited responses to 240 characters. Nobody wants to read essay-length responses in the comment section.

That’s why they put in the “Read more” button.

Go to TWTR then.

Thanks for mentioning what nobody wants, Limits are limiting, which can unfortunately, kind of lend itself to lame lamenting,

Oh boy, if that’s an “essay-length” response, educational standards really have dropped quite a lot.

Your comments about David Green would not surprise me. I have long known that the same person posts on Duramax diesel truck forums, laughing about rolling coal. But it is sort of like bro1999 completely ignoring the fact that he owes me $100 from his Oct. 19th 2017 bet that the Bolt will outsell the Model 3 in their respective first 12 months of sales in the US (it didn’t).

You call them out on this stuff and they just blindly continue on. They aren’t going to stop because nobody will stop them.

“Let’s make the internal combustion engine more efficient.” Wow. I’ll bet you’re the first person to think of that.

I like the final sentence of the video. It’s the right question to ask. Any efficiency improvement is welcome — but will it make much of a difference, at this point? By the time the new technology comes to market, EVs will have outgrown compliance car status, and fuel economy standards will have become obsolete as a driver for further EV adoption. Car maker will build EVs, and people will buy them, regardless whether combustion engines become a little more efficient or not.

Put it in a hybrid, or as a Rex, and it will be good for 5-10 years for larger vehicles.

I wonder where the notion comes from that larger vehicles are less suitable for electrification. That myth should have been put to rest the moment Tesla unveiled the Semi, if it wasn’t obvious before. Just like the Roadster put to rest the myth that electrification is not suitable for road transport in general.

It hasn’t been put to rest, especially if this really can radically boost the efficiency of those larger vehicles. Long-haul trucks can frequently go more than 1000 miles on a tank and this could probably stretch it out to nearly 2000 for some folks all without creating the same weight penalty as more batteries would.

37 mpg sounds good it will be only for a couple years until electric truck show with 80 to 100 mpg,

This design has been around for years; looks like the last hurrah from Big Oil grabbing at straws to extend their profits and ongoing pollution. The smart fossil fuel players, like Total and Shell, are already buying into renewables and battery tech.

This effort is… dubious. The best they could do is take a page from Tesla’s playbook, and sell advanced engines at a loss, or sans profit, in order to spike demand for oil. That strategy, at least, would be novel, but good luck with that.

“the world’s largest oil company has 30 engineers working away in [a] Detroit suburb on a project that sounds counterintuitive: an engine that burns less oil.”

Would have a better shot at having a million monkeys banging away on typewriters hoping to create the next great American novel.

The Ice Engine in 2018 is were the Steam Locomotive is at in 1953.

Steam Locomotives had over a hundred years from 1825 to improve to this point in 1953 and now they are on the way out.

Its a master move from a $ 500 billion company. But what sort of engine could match the mileage of mild hybrid vehicle with just 0.5 KWh battery.

Are they going to try some form of OPOC engine. But there are many technologies like lighter materials (Aluminium, Carbon fiber), alternative fuels (Natgas, Biofuels), battery usage (hybrids, plugins) to reduce the oil consumption and its advisable to go this way.

ICE’s need some form of battery to get the increase in mileage.
Mild hybrid: 0.5 KWh (15 % mileage increase)
Full hybrid: 1.5 KWh (40 % mileage increase)
Plugin hybrid: 4.0 – 20 KWh (80% mileage increase depending on motor/engine ratio)
Electric: 0 Petroleum

ICEs have always borrowed elements from the Battery electric playbook to keep up or pull ahead…

Battery powered starter (eliminates injury and death upon engine start-up)
Start/stop mode (5 -10% mileage increase)

“ICE’s need some form of battery to get the increase in mileage.
Mild hybrid: 0.5 KWh (15 % mileage increase)
Full hybrid: 1.5 KWh (40 % mileage increase)
Plugin hybrid: 4.0 – 20 KWh (80% mileage increase depending on motor/engine ratio)”

“Electric: 0 Petroleum” (MPG/MPGe – redacted)

Full EV (% mileage increase – obsolesced)

I drive a Nissan Leaf for daily commute, shopping and any other trips within the 80 mile range and for longer range, I take my Prius Hybrid (Gen-2) with a 48 mile range and I fill it with E15 Ethanol. No worries.

If E30 ethanol is available, I will go for it.

Lets do whatever we can. Already, Aramco has acquired many refineries, pretty soon, they will acquire gas stations and start selling motor fuels directly to customers and they will get a chance to gouge everyone even more

If there was a kit to upgrade a 80 mile leaf battery of the leaf to 300 miles it would most likely cause a lot of people to sell their gas powered cars.

Or as people trade their low range EV’s for ones with higher range it will destroy oil demand.

No surprises America is back to coal.

The ICE will go the same way and that records, VHS video tapes, tube type TVs, film cameras and land phones. When the market sees a better product the old one gets dumped.

Data extrapolated from InsideEV’s US sales.

There are a lot of ideas out there to reduce fuel consumption in ICE engines. The problem is that they are all increasingly more expensive, and they insert new problems into an already overly-complicated engine. And often MPG saving tech hits a brick wall when the ultra lean burn produces air pollution and clogs emissions devices.

For example, ultra high pressure fuel pumps and fuel injectors. Yes, they improved MPG, but they added higher failure rates with even higher repair prices (see BMW HPFP and Duramax fuel injector problems for examples). Fuel pumps used to be cheap mechanical units you could replace yourself for under $20 bucks.

The challenge isn’t to just improve MPG, it is to improve MPG while staying price competitive with dropping EV prices. And do it while also bringing down emissions. ICE motors are surrounded on 3 sides with MPG, emissions, and competition from EV’s. They are caught between a rock and a hard place, and the response from the ICE industry has been to lobby Congress to fight back on all 3.

We should recognize this for what it is. This is the new “Let’s wait for Fuel Cells, they are the future” line of defense against EV’s.

They have no real intention to massively cut oil consumption in the long term, but it gives them propaganda in their fight against EV mandates and pro-EV regulations. This is so they can say “just wait, we will bring super efficient ICE engines, we don’t need EV’s”. All while lobbying Congress to cut MPG requirements and gut CARB and CAFE requirements.

It’s called a Prius i.e. hybrid.

So, now if you take the fuel efficiency of this vehicle and improve it by 300% you are around the MPGe of an EV….IF you don’t include the inefficiency of getting the fuel to the stations, drilling, pumping and processing and everything that burning fossil fuels entails. Fail.

It has always been possible to make ICEngines more efficient… by making them more complex and therefore more expensive.

That’s not going to win the battle for them. Making ICEVs more expensive will only accelerate their movement toward obsolescence, because that means EVs will achieve price parity all the sooner.

There have been many attempts over the past century or more to produce an ICEngine with significantly better fuel efficiency. Of course, there have been real breakthroughs which have achieved a mild improvement in MPG, most notably electronic fuel injection.

One more attempt during the last gasp of the gasmobile is very unlikely to make any significant difference.

complexity makes things worse, rarely better.
Look at Liquid Piston. 45+%.

If they really wanted to kill EV, simply offer free charging for all EV. Even give Tesla drivers “rebate” for charging cost as well as encouraging ridesharing with EV (even Teslas) and give few bucks in addition to free charging for heavy use. All chargers will be hopelessly clogged and turn people off from getting EV. It’d cost fraction of the cost of developing anything to kill EV.

Free charging SUCKS!!!!!!!

If they want better efficiency they (oil companies) should dust off all the patents they bought like the one for the FISH Carburetor

I thought they had already paid you off, after you told us to keep quiet, when you signed the NDA, on the “Hush Hush” FISH Carburetor paperwork.

Honest, I’m just trying to keep the story straight.

When will these fossi fool companies get it? They can’t avoid the inevitable no matter how hard they try.

Oh, they do know it. But even knowing it, it’s in their best interest to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. That’s the fate of any obsolete business…

A couple of years ago Mazda announced the Skyactive-X, an ICE engine with supposedly 20-30% better fuel economy, with cars to come out in 2019.

Who knows if it will pan out or not, but I have a lot more faith in Mazda, who have been doing research into internal combustion engines for decades, than some oil company.

Of course, while this is all going on, lots of battery research is also taking place. All it takes is a few years of progressive battery improvements, and long range electric cars will start to approach the price of a cheap ICE. When that happens, you can guess what will happen to sales of ICE vehicles.

Yes, SkyActive-X is coming out end of this year.But Toyota has a competiting tech just released tat claimed to increase 40% as compared to Mazda’s engine!. But all those are just “incremental” efficiencies of a tech that is really dying due to EV and battery advances compared to costs!. It is technology evolution applied to economics efficiencies. EV will win. It is just a matter of how soon ?.

Efficience is good, but the petrol will be finished in decades, or too expensive, there are lot of countries without petrol, and every one can produce electricity from renewable sources. The electricity is the future.

Solar cost of production at $0.058 per Kwh is already making energy production cheaper than using oil/gas!. UAE is building a second huge solar farm to capture electricity and using is excess energy capacity to pump crude!. How ironic. You can see the death if oil industry just from that perspective, then EV’s and Battery storage for the grid comes into play. Oil has no chance in the next 15 years….(not just efficiency, also much much cheaper cost!)

{Saudi Aramco is “trying to protect its market share by slowing a potential exodus to electric vehicles.” How? It’s reported that “the world’s largest oil company has 30 engineers working away in [a] Detroit suburb on a project that sounds counterintuitive: an engine that burns less oil.”}

Huh ?!!. They are saying these 30 engineers can better the thousands of Grade-A+ engineers from the known automakers from Germany, UK and Japan in ICE technology ?!. When batteries prices get to $100/Kwh, it is game-over or ICE vehicles. This is less than 10 years. More like 7 to 9 years to go considering the impact of the amount of money being invested in EV tech abd better tech right now!. The “ICE horse” is pretty much dead already.,….

This just in…company to make better steam engines to ward off challenge of diesel-electric locomotives.

Which certainly did happen. Hopefully, someone has the foresight to save some of the ICEs from the scrapper before it’s too late.

I’m sure in some dark corner of an old weathered Detroit factory, a group of former Kodak film chemist, are toiling away, desperately trying to make an analogue camera film, that can compete against digital photos.