Auto makers say we’re on the verge of a seismic technological change. Within the decade, they promise, automobiles will be powered by wonderful new engines that will eliminate emissions and wean us off oil. Don’t bet on it. We’ve heard this story before. Electric cars, gas-turbine engines and whisper-light plastic bodies were the panaceas proffered in the past. Today it’s clean diesels, hybrids and fuel cells. Yet, when it comes to choosing between what we already make or going with ...

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