DETROIT, April 20, 1970 (UPI) - Edward N. Cole, president of General of Motors Corp., predicted the internal combustion engine will overcome pollution problems and remain the power source for passenger cars for at least 20 years.
He was the first top-ranking auto official to make such a clear, far-reaching prediction in support of the internal combustion engine.
All other known power sources, including the gas turbine engine, he said, have drawbacks as great if not greater than the conventional internal combustion power plant.
Moreover, he said by 1974 General Motors and probably the other automakers will have available devices capable of reducing present air pollutants such as unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen to near zero.
This will be done he said, with catalytic converters utilizing materials and technology of the space age to convert nearly all hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide to water and carbon dioxide, and cutting sharply the oxides of nitrogen emissions.
"We think we have a technical solution that will permit it (the internal combustion engine) to be essentially pollution-free," said Cole.
As for possible alternative power source in case the industry cannot make the internal combustion engine conform to rigid new regulation of emissions, Cole said the number "one candidate is the gas turbine - but it has drawbacks. It is costly and inefficient in the operating cycles of the typical passenger car."
With enough time for development of new materials and lower cost production, Cole said, the turbine could be a satisfactory successor.
"Then, I'm afraid we'd be getting regulation on thermal pollution because the heat coming out of a gas turbine engine is quite excessive compared with an internal combustion engine," he added.
The steam engine Cole put at the bottom of the list as the least efficient. He said it has drawbacks such as no satisfactory substitute as a working fluid for water, which freezes, and a wait for steam build-up before the car could be operated.
Liquid petroleum or compressed natural gas engines pose problems, he said, because there aren't enough of these fuels to satisfy the needs of millions of cars.
The electric car might be good for commuting within the city, but it does not have sufficient range to be an overall transportation unit for the average person, he said.