The internal combustion engine had a good run. But the end is in sight for the machine that changed the world
“Human inventiveness…has still not found a mechanical process to replace horses as the propulsion for vehicles,” lamented Le Petit Journal, a French newspaper, in December 1893.
Its answer was to organise the Paris-Rouen race for horseless carriages, held the following July.
The 102 entrants included vehicles powered by steam, petrol, electricity, compressed air and hydraulics.
Only 21 qualified for the 126km (78-mile) race, which attracted huge crowds.
The clear winner was the internal combustion engine.
Over the next century it would go on to power industry and change the world.
But its days are numbered.
Rapid gains in battery technology favour electric motors instead.
In Paris in 1894 not a single electric car made it to the starting line, partly because they needed battery-replacement stations every 30km or so.
Today's electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better.
The Chevy Bolt has a range of 383km; Tesla fans recently drove a Model S more than 1,000km on a single charge.
雪佛兰闪电（Chevy Bolt）有382公里的最大行程；特斯拉的粉丝日前单独充了一次电，就让Model S 跑了1000多公里。
UBS, a bank, reckons the “total cost of ownership” of an electric car will reach parity with a petrol one next year—albeit at a loss to its manufacturer.
It optimistically predicts electric vehicles will make up 14% of global car sales by 2025, up from 1% today.
Others have more modest forecasts, but are hurriedly revising them upwards as batteries get cheaper and better—the cost per kilowatt-hour has fallen from $1,000 in 2010 to $130-200 today.
Regulations are tightening, too.