IN THE TWO years since the world’s biggest automakers last gathered in Frankfurt for the biannual International Motor Show, the future of their industry has shifted dramatically. The opening of the 2015 festivities came just as the world learned Volkswagen had sold millions of diesel-powered cars that used illegal software to cheat emissions standards. Two years on, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Renault, and Nissan have faced accusations of running similar schemes.
Consumers are hardly flocking to electric cars in response—EVs account for less than one percent of US sales—but the tarnishing of so-called “clean diesel” and the goals set by the Paris climate accord have convinced governments it’s time for a forced migration. They’re no longer settling for gradually more fuel-efficient or less-polluting cars. They’re pushing to end the reign of the internal combustion engine altogether.