In addition to forced-induction and stop/start systems, AutomotiveCompass says the real winners in the foreseeable future will be producers of catalysts for emissions-control systems, electronics, highly developed fuel-injection systems, advanced clutching mechanisms and synthetic oils that can enhance fuel efficiency and withstand rising engine temperatures.

Among the many losers in the auto industry’s global push to increase efficiency and reduce emissions will be conventional cast iron used for engine blocks and V-8s. In addition, torque converters will wane if dual-clutch and continuously variable transmissions continue growing in popularity, as expected.

Complicating everything will be the uneven quality of fuel, which will limit the availability of the cleanest powertrains in some markets, perhaps including the U.S., whose fuels are well below Western Europe’s in octane, cetane and purity.

Alternative fuels will remain highly controversial and regionally biased. Ethanol will remain dominant in Brazil but is not expected to gain much traction in the rest of the world except as an additive.

The natural-gas boom in the U.S., created by the hydraulic fracturing drilling method, has some predicting a surge in vehicles powered by compressed natural gas.

Brian Maxim, senior director-global powertrain forecasting for AutomotiveCompass, says U.S. corporate average fuel economy rules provide credits for vehicles capable of burning E-85 ethanol or CNG, so this likely will spur production of flexible-fuel vehicles.

But skeptics say aside from fleet vehicles with central refueling stations, CNG will not catch on with individual buyers because there is no CNG refueling infrastructure. They argue poor sales of Honda’s CNG-powered Civic are evidence there is little consumer demand.

Transmissions also will go through a significant regionally influenced evolution. Japanese OEMs will further the advancement and proliferation of continuously variable transmissions while Europeans focus on dual-clutch transmissions. U.S. automakers will concentrate on adding gears to traditional automatics, Maxim says.