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Why gas-powered cars aren't going away

The future of cars: Self-driving and electric

The internal combustion engine has been around more than a century. And it should be around for decades to come, despite Volvo's announcement Wednesday that it will move away from cars powered only by gasoline.

"It's hard to find technology that is better suited for cars," said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "The idea that we are moving completely away from internal combustion is completely exaggerated."

There is no doubt that electric cars are becoming more popular. Prices are becoming more competitive with traditional gasoline-powered cars.

And Lindland and other experts say several factors will move the industry toward even greater use of electric motors, including tougher environmental regulations and the desire for self-driving cars, which will need more electrical juice for all their computing needs.

But eliminating the gas engine altogether will be difficult, if not impossible.

The first reason is profitability. The stock of...