The death of the internal combustion engine has been greatly exaggerated. Even the world’s biggest automaker believes EVs won’t ever fully replace ICE cars. Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda recently said electric cars will never exceed a 30% market share. Where does that leave the remaining 70%? Combustion engines (and maybe) hydrogen.

We caught up with BMW M Head of Development Dirk Häcker in Austria at the Salzburgring to talk about engines. While the German luxury brand is not working on synthetic fuels, it’s been testing them in existing high-performance models: “We are not developing e-fuels, but we take a very intensive look at the development all over the world. We are also able to use most of them in our actual models.”

We also spoke with BMW M boss Frank van Meel and he argued that keeping an eye on e-fuels is a necessity. More and more racing series are focusing on greener sources of energy, so BMW M Motorsport needs to adapt if need be. The crown jewel of motorsport, Formula 1, will switch to using 100% sustainable fuel from 2026. IMSA is also targeting fully renewable fuel, while WRC made the switch in 2022. The Excellium Racing 100 by TotalEnergies used in WEC is entirely renewable as well. It’s based on bioethanol basis from wine residues from the agricultural industry in France.

Other automakers are more involved in e-fuels, particularly Porsche. It’s not only developing synthetic fuel but it’s also producing it in Chile.  The pilot plant has been up and running since late 2022. It’s producing renewable fuel from water and carbon dioxide using wind energy. This makes cars almost CO2-neutral.

Toyota has a different approach to saving the internal combustion engine by making it run on hydrogen. The company’s turbocharged 1.6-liter, three-cylinder engine has already been tested on hydrogen-fueled prototypes of the GR Yaris and GR Corolla hot hatches. BMW actually works with Toyota on the iX5 program, which could birth a production model as early as 2027. It would likely be based on the next-generation X5 (G65) with its X-shaped headlights.