Why internal combustion engines are making a comeback

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For at least the last five years, electric and hybrid technology has dominated the European auto show circuits.

In 2007, the entire Franfkfurt show was colored "green" with new solutions to lower CO2 emissions and raise fuel economy.

Geneva could be a sign that things are changing.

The gasoline and diesel engines are admittedly downsized, but internal combustion is again the rage.

Everywhere you looked in Geneva, new IC engines were being launched.

The new Peugeot 208 has a new 1.0-liter and 1.2-liter three-cylinder power plant. The new Ford B-Max will be offered with a three-cylinder, 1.0-liter Ecoboost turbo gas engine. And Honda showed a new 1.6-liter diesel in the CRV.

Volvo's CEO Stefan Jacoby talked Tuesday morning about the power of the automaker's forthcoming four-cylinder engines, and maybe a future three-cylinder engine.

"We see enormous potential in internal-combustion" he said. "That's where we are making our play."

Klaus Draeger, BMW's head of r&d, says car companies are getting more realistic about the outlook of the market by 2020.

"We think 10-to-15 percent of all vehicles by 2020 will be electric," he said, "but that leaves 90 percent that will be a combination of internal-combustion. There's been a little mismatch between the number of articles published on Evs versus conventional."

When asked if BMW will expand its range of forthcoming low-emission models, Draeger said patience is key when it comes to the possible proliferation of EVs.

"Let's see how people buy our (electric) products," he said. " Let's bring the product to market, but keep the company profitable."

You can reach Jason Stein at jstein@crain.com. -- Follow Jason on Twitter

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