NEW YORK – It’s great that this year’s New York International Auto Show has a special emphasis on alternative-fuel cars of the future, but there’s plenty to be said for the marvels of existing internal-combustion-engine technology.

So says Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volkswagen of America Inc., keynote speaker at today’s media breakfast kicking off this city’s 109th auto show.

“Looking at the cars of the future is always fun, but I also hope you take a look at the technologies that are available today, not years from now,” he says, citing fuel-saving innovations such as continuous variable valve timing and direct-fuel injection.

The industry in general, and VW in particular, is committed to developing alternative-fuel vehicles, Jacoby says. “VW is researching every option.

“We have to be realistic and honest with ourselves and the public. The day will come when we are liberated from fossil fuels, but that day is not today.”

Some new technologies may be 20 years away, he says. “We haven’t found the silver bullet yet, so auto makers are developing a portfolio of options.”

In the meantime, Jacoby is a proponent of clean-diesel technology and the fuel efficiency that comes with it. He cites the VW Jetta TDI as an example.

“I’m confident clean diesel will become more popular as Americans become more familiar with it,” he says, noting in some European countries there are more diesel-powered vehicles on the roads than those with gasoline engines.