Toyota predicts the internal combustion engine will only survive as part of a hybrid powertrain.

One of Toyota's top executives predicts it will be impossible to buy a car powered only by an internal combustion engine in 2050.

"We expect that by 2050 we will have reduced CO2 emissions from vehicles by 90 percent compared to the figure in 2010. To achieve that, from 2040 simple internal combustion-engined cars will not be made, but they may be the basis of some hybrid or plug-in hybrid cars," said Seigo Kuzumaki, Toyota's head of R&D and advanced engineering, in an interview with British magazine Autocar.

Kuzumaki pointed out Toyota expects cars powered exclusively by a gasoline- or diesel-burning engine will get driven out of the market by government regulations all around the globe. Numerous cities and countries have announced plans to ban the cars in the not-too-distant future, though whether they'll actually be implemented remains to be seen.

At the same time, electric technology will progress and eventually catch up with the internal combustion engine in terms of range, re-fueling times, and cost. Toyota is notably making large investments in solid state batteries which promise to offer markedly more range and lightning-fast charging times.

While Toyota's first electric cars will use lithium-ion batteries, Kuzumaki told Autocar he expects to begin mass production of solid state batteries by the early 2020s. Audi R&D boss Peter Mertens recently provided a similar time frame, which suggests the breakthrough is right around the corner.

"We hold more patents on solid state batteries than any other company. We are getting close to developing cars using the technology, and we believe that we will be ahead of our rivals in achieving that," predicted Kuzumaki.

Photo by Ronan Glon.