Tesla Pushes EVs, Legacy Automakers & Big Oil Work To Save ICE

Red Tesla Model 3 LA Auto Show

JAN 11 2018 BY EVANNEX 59


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


As Tesla pushes ahead with advances in electric vehicle tech, Wall Street Journal reports, “Big oil and auto makers throw a lifeline to the combustion engine.” Sure, the new Tesla Roadster appears to have decimated traditional gas-powered supercars across the spectrum. Nevertheless, “Big oil companies and giant auto makers are teaming up to preserve the internal combustion engine… [just as] as tough regulation and electric vehicles put the car industry’s century-old technology at risk.”

Who’s involved in this effort? It’s reported that “Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other oil companies are spending millions of dollars a year in concert with auto makers such as Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to create the next generation of super-slick engine lubricants.”

Why? “They are betting that the new, thinner oils will help them squeeze even more efficiency out of traditional car engines, allowing them to comply with stricter environmental rules and remain relevant as new technologies such as zero-emission electric vehicles gain traction.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman.

Andrew Hepher, vice president of global commercial technology at Shell explains, “It’s really important that we are able to squeeze the lemon.” Shell has formed partnerships with Fiat Chrysler, among others, on next-gen lubricants. Hepher adds, “The combustion engine has still got a long way to run… Car makers are very, very heavily motivated to improve the economy of their fleet.”


Legacy automakers are hoping that the internal combustion engine can “keep pace” with newer hybrid / electric tech (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Chris Cowland, director of advanced powertrain engineering at Fiat Chrysler notes, “We are putting a huge amount of faith in the lubricant oil to keep the engine running smoothly and preventing it from seizing up in seconds.”

BP has teamed up with “Ford and Volvo [to] send engine models for rigorous testing by engineers who look at ways to tweak lubricant formulas for more efficiency.” Dave Hall, a vice president at Castrol – BP’s lubricants subsidiary – explains, “If you can improve a few percent, that is very much worth doing… There’s going to be a lot of internal combustion engines around for a long time.”

While the oil industry has high hopes, it’s reported that “the combustion engine faces new threats across the world. Countries including the U.K., France, China, and India have signaled they plan to ban sales of vehicles with traditional engines… [and] the European Union unveiled an aggressive proposal to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from cars and vans by 30% by 2030. Beijing wants 20% of China’s total vehicle production and sales to be electric and hybrid vehicles by 2025.”

Above: A few of the reasons the internal combustion engine is under siege from electric vehicles (Youtube: EVBox)

Furthermore, “Critics say there are limits to how much more efficient combustion engines can become… Boston Consulting Group estimates gasoline-only engines won’t meet planned regulations in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2020, resulting in penalties averaging $500 per vehicle by 2025.” And PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts, “between 2025 and 2030, the cost of battery electric vehicles will fall below the cost of combustion engines,” in a report issued in September — predicting that a shift to electric vehicles is inevitable.


Source: Wall 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. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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59 Comments on "Tesla Pushes EVs, Legacy Automakers & Big Oil Work To Save ICE"

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So… a few percent efficiency gain from better lubricants was considered a “lifeline to the combustion engine” by Wallstreet Journal? That’s a pretty optimistic view.

As conspiracies go there are worse ones than Big Oil and Big Car teaming up for magic motor oil but I don’t think it will go very far in extending the ICE age.

They will do with the engine as they did with the transmissions. They went CVT and created another unneeded & Costly Problematic situation for the customer , they Break shortly after or prior to the warrantee expiring “If you’re Lucky” so they shrug responsibility As they Make money selling you Parts! . BOYCOTT Big OIL & All New ICE CARS !!

7 years, over 100,000 km, CVT still alive.

A sample size of 1 hardly conveys reality.

Powertrain moving parts counts are what kill the ICE chances of winning this battle.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

All I have to say is just don’t buy anymore ICE cars.

I’m not. I just hope a good 4×4 crew cab pickup with 220-250 range comes out that can DCFC 100kw+

1) For and Volvo are still working together on engines?

2) They don’t expect Trump to roll back EPA requirements?
( That’s the only good news I heard in weeks. )

3) They expect a small % increase to keep them competitive to upcoming EV Pickup’s? Are the US companies so in debt they can’t compete with Tesla?

Ford and Volvo, not “For and Volvo”.

Ford used to own Volvo.

All former ties with Ford have now been cut since the sale of Volvo cars in 2010. Volvo is more or less independently devoloping and manufacturing it’s own engines in Sweden for the global market.

2050? There will be ZERO ICE vehicles sold in 2050.

I have to call BS on this one. The ICE engine will only be efficient when it doesn’t need a radiator, which will never happen.

As to whether there are any big improvements from lubricants? Seems very unlikely given that the majority of friction in an ICE engine is caused by the piston rings. They have already reduced ring tension to the bare minimum (and Subaru went too far, which is why you had low mileage Forresters burning a quart of oil every 500-1000 miles). The second problem with this argument is that most drivetrain friction reductions would also apply to electric motors and drivetrains.

ICE Engines designed to run on pure alcohol and water need no rads . . .

This just shows how utterly hopeless their position is. Theoretical limits are near the top at around 30% efficiency for the ICE.
Of course in practice it’s around 22%.
That won’t change much no matter years pass nor how many bar graphs you draw.
Total BS

as long as they are not getting tax payer money for it, let them have at it.

Nah, just taxpayer subsidies. You know, no big difference.

Actually, the car makers and the oil companies would be eligible for a tax write-off on this through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C) signed into law by Bush Jr. Both the car makers and the oil companies are eligible for a tax write-off spent developing this new oil and engines to go with it because it would qualify under the law as: “(7) Efficient end-use energy technologies.” Furthermore, the car makers can write off production facility costs associated with building new engines using this new oil: “(8) Production facilities for the manufacture of fuel efficient vehicles or parts of those vehicles…” And the oil industry can write off facility costs associated with refining the new oil: “(10) Refineries, meaning facilities at which crude oil is refined into gasoline.” They are coated with slick “new oil” tax incentives from development all the way through to production. This is an example of how even legislation targeting green cars is being used to carve out huge tax cuts for the automotive and oil industries. And don’t be fooled by the fancy “super-slick oil” branding. It is just the latest of a long line of oils they have been developing for… Read more »

Thank you, this is just merely a Tax SCAM, they’ve got written into law, to have the GOVERNMENT pay for their next round of ICE engines.

Not quite true. Both the engines in the ionic and Prius have a thermal efficiency of 40%.

…in the lab… under ideal conditions.

If you want a car with an engine and want it to operate near ideal efficiency, buy a hybrid or a PHEV.

Don’t make claims- look it up— This limiting value is called the Carnot cycle efficiency because it is the efficiency of an unattainable, ideal, reversible engine cycle called the Carnot cycle. No device converting heat into mechanical energy, regardless of its construction, can exceed this efficiency. Examples of {\displaystyle T_{H}\,} T_H\, are the temperature of hot steam entering the turbine of a steam power plant, or the temperature at which the fuel burns in an internal combustion engine. {\displaystyle T_{C}\,} T_C\, is usually the ambient temperature where the engine is located, or the temperature of a lake or river into which the waste heat is discharged. For example, if an automobile engine burns gasoline at a temperature of {\displaystyle T_{H}=816^{\circ }{\text{C}}=1500^{\circ }{\text{F}}=1089{\text{K}}\,} T_H = 816^\circ \text{C} = 1500^\circ \text{F} = 1089 \text{K}\, and the ambient temperature is {\displaystyle T_{C}=21^{\circ }{\text{C}}=70^{\circ }{\text{F}}=294{\text{K}}\,} T_C = 21^\circ \text{C} = 70^\circ \text{F} = 294 \text{K}\,, then its maximum possible efficiency is: {\displaystyle \eta _{th}\leq \left(1-{\frac {294K}{1089K}}\right)100\%=73.0\%} {\displaystyle \eta _{th}\leq \left(1-{\frac {294K}{1089K}}\right)100\%=73.0\%} It can be seen that since {\displaystyle T_{C}\,} T_C\, is fixed by the environment, the only way for a designer to increase the Carnot efficiency of an engine is to increase {\displaystyle T_{H}\,}… Read more »

You are missing two very important factors related to a gasoline spark ignition that limit efficiency. The factors are both related to compression ratios. As compression ratio is increased, combustion temperature is increased which in turn increases efficiency.

One problem is oxides of nitrogen. As combustion temperatures increase more oxides of nitrogen are produced. Modern ICEs have devices to either limit combustion temperatures or capture oxides of nitrogen in the tail pipe.

Another worse problem is preignition or knock. Knock occurres when the air fuel mixture ignites before the spark plug causing damage to the engine. Higher octane levels are one method to reduce knock in higher compression engines.

The Truth shall prevail! Thank You!

“Theoretical limits are near the top at around 30% efficiency for the ICE.”

You are wrong about the theoretical maximum being 30%. You can buy many cars today with engines that are around 40% efficiency. Mazda is aiming for about 50% efficiency with the next generation of SkyActiv engines.

“Of course in practice it’s around 22%.”

Where did you get that 22% figure and why should it be obvious to anyone?

They can only achieve the efficiencies you’re citing in bench tests of the motor itself, not the vehicle, in ideal conditions running at a fixed speed; the engine’s most efficient speed.

The figures Ffbj quoted were probably pretty close to the best ever seen in actual real-world driving conditions for any mass produced, gasoline-powered passenger vehicle. (They can do slightly better with diesel, but who wants a diesel-powered vehicle these days?) So, “ICEV” rather than “ICE”, but perhaps that’s what he meant.

Another Euro point of view

“Theoretical limits are near the top at around 30% efficiency for the ICE”

Yes for ICE made in north america, in Japan and Europe where ICE technology is more sophisticated 35-40% efficiency is the new benchmark.
This explains why american ICE cars are sold neither in Europe nor in Japan, just too much behind.

Add to this the necessary transmission and its losses . . .

Take a look at that mpg chart and imagine how poor the driving experience is on a 75mpg ice car is compared to a 100mpge EV.
We are talking worlds of difference as in 0-60 times in the low 4s to 6 seconds and great throttle response compared to the poor acceleration and response from a wheezed out 75mpg gas car.

EXACTLY! EVs today already beat ICEs abd Hybrids in 2050.

So, oil companies are promising “magic lubricants” which are gonna make the Infernal Combustion Engine as efficient as a hybrid EV?

Oh, please. Gasmobiles will improve their energy efficiency far more by adopting some EV tech, such as stop/start tech, than they ever would with a very slight improvement in efficiency by more slippery lubricants.

The EV revolution is advancing in many ways. One of those ways is that we will see fewer and fewer pure gasmobiles, and more and more micro-hybrids using EV tech such as stop/start systems and/or a mild form of regenerative braking.

This takes snake oil to a whole new level…

You got that right!

Reminds me of the “e-carborator” and other nonsense Big Auto tried to pull to “save” the humble carborator and avoid replacing it with fuel injection back in the ‘80’s. That went nowhere. This won’t go anywhere either.

I grew up hearing rumors of the super efficient carburetor that someone’s Uncle Wiggly had invented which allowed a 3/4 ton truck to get 100 MPH. He sold the patent to big-oil who put the details in a file cabinet. Maybe it is time to bring this carburetor, water-injection, and “Brown’s gas” out of hiding.

‘Browns Gas’ is in reality, unicorn farts. Conspiracy theory again.

What a joke. What’s more likely is they are spending millions of dollars to attack EVs on a variety of different battle grounds including FUD campaigns, political bribes, and patent acquisitions. However, they need to have some way to explain where all the money is going, so they invent this new lubricant research budget… yeah right. I’m not falling for it.

They can f00l some of the people some of the time ..

This whole article is a big joke and the posts are not any better. All you have to do is follow the energy path to see why ICEs are so inefficient. Most of the energy of the fuel that goes into an ICE gets lost as waste heat through the engine exhaust and through the engine jacket. There are many ways to improve the efficiency of fuel burning devices. A power plant burning the same fuel might achieve efficiencies of 70% or more. But the methods to combustion efficiency are expensive and complicated, especially if you require zero emission in the combustion process. Electric vehicles will win out, not because they are more efficient, but because they are simpler, less expensive and more convenient. The theory of the hydrogen economy is based on exploiting existing fossil fuels over the short term. Our electric economy will also have to be based on fossil fuels over the short term. The greatest advantage with the electric economy just like the hydrogen economy is that it’s not based on any single type of fuel source. The oil companies are still going to be king even after all our cars are electric. But the oil… Read more »

“The oil companies are still going to be king even after all our cars are electric.”

Assuming the energy cycle is renewables+storage powering fleets of BEVs, I’m not seeing a role for oil companies. Short term you’d have some natural gas generated electricity in the mix, but that’s not going to last long.

It’s complicated but let me give you an example. The UAE is using it’s oil money to build the zero carbon Masdar Institute of Technology. The premise is that UAE knows that one day it’s oil is going to run out so they want to transition from an exporter of oil to an exporter of technology.

The oil companies provide the energy to the world and that’s not going to stop. Whatever energy that is in demand is the energy the oil companies are going to provide. We probably need to call them energy companies instead of oil companies.

What does an oil company do when an oil well runs dry? They use the money they made off of the old well to drill a new well. What do the oil companies spend there money on if nobody wants oil anymore?

Zero emission power plants? Electric power infrastructure? Energy storage?

One thing I’m sure of, the energy companies have the money and when the world turns sustainable these energy companies will still be on top.

I’ll believe it if/when I see it. The article we’re commenting on is about the way fossil fuel extraction companies are fighting hard to keep their old businesses going.

The fact is that no matter how much money you have, you can’t develop a new core competency overnight. Oil companies have spent many decades learning how to extract raw petroleum, refine it, and then distribute it. Their expertise in this is very deep. But none of it has much application to the new world of distributed renewables that’s coming.

There’s lots of investment money sloshing around looking for opportunities. By the time the oil majors have given up on extraction, the best bets for renewable investment will have already been made. Oil money will just join the crowd of other capital searching for alpha in mature capital markets.

“The article we’re commenting on is about the way fossil fuel extraction companies are fighting hard to keep their old businesses going.”

Exactly, and thank you.

The reason Big Oil companies are fighting hard to maintain the current tech is because they know there isn’t any near-magic future tech such as the EV bashers here are suggesting.

But if Big Oil & Gas companies start investing in renewable energy and selling energy from renewable resources, then we should applaud their efforts. So far at least, I don’t see any significant move in that direction. All I see in their advertising is a bunch of greenwashing, claiming their current industry is “green” when it’s the exact opposite, and talking about vaporware technologies like “clean coal” as if it’s real, and the “hydrogen economy” as if it’s not a hoax they’re promoting.

It’s up to YOU, it’s not up to THEM. If YOU quit buying smokers that burn oil then THEY will quit producing the oil and start investing in alternative energy. Quit blaming THEM for YOUR bad choices.

According to the chart we have to wait until 2050 for a gasser that gets mid 80’s mpg.
No need for that, according to NEDC and JC08 they are here already ?
And that is official so it has to be true!


Did anyone notice that the chart is 5 years old (2013)? And just who comprised the “National Research Council”? And why would a Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper like the Wall Street Journal dig up 5 year old reports for a “news” story?

I think the mpg shown in the chart is vaporware no matter what oil is used inside the engine. 2030? 2050? Does anyone’s crystal ball give clear pics 12 years out? 32 years out?

I feel sometimes like the Geo Metro is like the Saturn V: a technology that cannot be repeated and is lost. It attained 50 mpg over 25 years ago.

So the solution here is to start pouring AMSOil into our cars, or that Synlube product. Guys and gals, it’s not part friction, it is mechanical complexity. The more angles, moving parts, levers, etc that are involved, the less efficient the vehicle is. As said above, I echo that a petrol generator with electric drive is the last hope of ICE.

The “secret” to the Geo Metro was simply that the vehicle was small. Motorcycles can get even better MPG, because they are pushing much less mass around. The real trick is creating a standard sized vehicle that gets high MPG.

Friends and I were once able to get a Geo Metro to spin out on a dirt road by having 3 of us crammed into the back seat shift our weight from side to side as hard as we could. Once we got a rhythm going it started to sway until it completely lost traction and spun a 180. The driver wasn’t very happy about it…..

Good times!! *grin*

Hurricane Andrew moved a Geo Metro about 2 feet sideways and with minimal damage LOL

“Motorcycles can get even better MPG, because they are pushing much less mass around.”

Yeah. I was thinking, as I was reading the discussion here, that they only way we’re going to see 70 MPG, highway-capable passenger car ICEVs is if those “cars” are 2- and 3-wheeled microcars with very light bodies, more like an enclosed motorcycle than what Americans call a “car”.

In the real world, ICEVs are powered by heat engines which have real thermodynamic limits, and are subject to the maximum theoretical limit of Carnot efficiency. No magic lubricant or “sophisticated Japanese/European technology” is going to overcome those limits!

BEVs are already far, far more energy efficient than ICEVs will ever be. BEVs are not powered by heat engines, and are not limited by maximum Carnot efficiency.

Another Euro point of view

It could have been written by Get real…

So, if we just hold out and keep the status quo until 2050 we will be nearly as efficient as electrics. Hmmm, with the exception 4 feet deep watwer everywhere in Florida, that sounds “super slick”!

Even if they could keep up with the efficiency of an EV, you still can’t get past the health related subsides that particulate matter kills. Of course unless you start calling the cardiologist and pulmonologist a$$holes like the scientist for declaring the cost of environmental disasters. Face it, forget about the environment, it’s not fiscally responsible. Let-it-go!

Should read Trump, GOP and fossil fuel donators work towards keeping dirty fuel, even though technology is available that can produce affordable clean energy.

Exxon stated only by 2040, only 6% of the vehicles on road will be plugins. If that is true, why should they participate in this type of project since the doubling of vehicles could more than compensate for this 6% loss.

So Exxon’s report is a Bluff.

Ideally all vehicles can have Start/Stop technology as standard since it uses only 48V batteries and no motor. This will reduce the fuel consumption by 5%, but oil companies want us to use special oil which will give business for them even though the used lubricants are very harmful for us.

The simplest short term solution for us now is to use biofuels like Methanol, Ethanol, Biodiesel to reduce the oil consumption. E15 (Ethanol) is already available for sales in USA in 1,000 + fuel stations while China has growing M15 (Methanol) usage and Brazil has E27 (Ethanol) as standard.

The long term solution is definitely the plugins. If our family has only 1 car, then PHV is the solution while a 2 car family can have 1 electric vehicle.

Problem with E15 is it’s not allowed to be sold year round, if it was you could see sales of E15 available at 100 maybe 1,990 times more locations. Stations aren’t interested in selling a product for only 8 months of a year.

That is so crazy, considering that E85 (min 70-85% ethanol) is sold year round