What is the market leader in equipment for measuring automobile emissions to do if the vehicles of the future don't spew exhaust? Horiba Ltd., whose tech was central in exposing Volkswagen AG's diesel-cheating scandal, believes that day will never come.

Electric vehicles won't ever make up more than a third of autos worldwide, says Chief Executive Officer Atsushi Horiba, because it's just not feasible to build the scale of infrastructure to enable battery-powered cars.

Who, for example, would set up a charging station in the middle of the Arizona desert, he said in a recent interview in Tokyo. Automobiles with internal combustion engines — including those using diesel — will continue to have a place, particularly in emerging markets, he said.