The growing market for cars in the developing world is influencing engine development.
Instead of complex hybrid powertrains, automakers are looking toward simple, low-cost engines that are clean and fuel efficient.
Speakers at the annual Vienna Motor Symposium in April said improved gasoline- and diesel-powered engines are realistic alternatives to gasoline-electric hybrids.
The production of cost-effective engines is essential if automakers are to capitalize on the growth potential of the developing world, said Herbert Demel, president of Volkswagen Brazil.
Most auto sales growth will be in the developing countries of Asia, South America and Africa rather than in the mature economies of Europe, North America and Japan, Demel said.
But incomes in developing countries will remain low, so those markets will be more price-sensitive, Demel told the conference's 1,000 engineering delegates. So reducing costs in developing markets is even more important than in mature markets. In the opening lecture, Volks-wagen AG Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said VW would apply many of the technologies from its 1-liter concept car in future vehicles. But VW won't build the car itself because it would be too expensive. The 1-liter car - so called because it uses only one-quarter of a gallon of fuel every 62 miles - is built from a mix of carbon fiber and aluminum. Its body shell weighs only 1,100 pounds. Power comes from a rear-mounted, three-cylinder turbodiesel that automatically switches itself off when the car is coasting or in heavy traffic.
"We are a global group but we will never build a world car," Pischetsrieder said. "Our modular technology enables us to build low-cost cars that are specially designed for each market."