Like Jerry Flint says, behind every good hybrid is an internal combustion engine columnist Jerry Flint doesn't think automakers will give up on gas or diesel engines quickly, simply because technology keeps making them better.

He likes Volkswagen's TSI innovation that combines the low-end boost of a supercharger and the higher speed potential of a turbocharger. More power out of a smaller engine means better fuel economy. He says that the VW engine doesn't cost as much as a diesel upgrade but comes very close in matching a diesel's mileage. The TSI won't be available in the U.S. because it works only on small engines and requires 95-octane fuel.

Honda's advanced VTEC variable-valve timing technolgy looks promosing to Flint as it may boost highway mileage up to 42mpg. That trick should reach the production line in three years.

Flint remains cautious on diesel engines. He acknowledges Honda's "revolutionary" technology that controls NOx may rival gas engines in emission cleanliness, but he's also aware of the cost potential. The biggest hurdle is the emission standard that is much more stringent than Europe where diesel engines flourish. Domestic automakers can apply technology to diesel engines but the cost may prohibit sales.

In closing, Flint sees plenty of alternative options without an end to conventional gas engines.


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