• Oct 31st 2012 at 11:49AM
  • 7
Automakers and fans of alternative fuel vehicles have been waiting for years for consumers to start rolling off dealer lots driving green cars. It is slowly starting to happen, with the number of vehicles that don't run exclusively on standard gasoline nearly doubling from 534,000 on US roads in 2003 to almost 940,000 in 2010, according to US Energy Information Administration. The numbers have only risen since then, and are expected to increase in the coming years – Pike Research is forecasting sales of hybrid and electric vehicles to nearly triple by 2017 when federal mandates for higher fuel economy vehicles take hold.

While wealthy consumers have been hanging out at Tesla Motors showrooms to consider buying the expensive Model S, some fleet managers are becoming more interested in buying alternative power vehicles as well. The environmental benefits are there, but the economic figures makes sense, too.

"The main reason we made the decision to transfer to an alternative-fuel fleet is to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible, but it's definitely helping the bottom line," Kelso Ingraham, operations and logistics manager at snack-food maker SunRidge Farms, told Terra. The company has saved 33 percent on fuel costs thanks to its hybrid electric vehicles.

Benefits making alternative fuel vehicles more attractive to fleets and consumers are federal tax incentives up to $7,500 per vehicle, decreasing sticker prices, record breaking gasoline prices, high mileage vehicles, access to carpool lanes and a growing fueling infrastructure. The number of vehicles is getting more diverse and numerous, too. This selection includes all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, hybrids, and natural gas, propane, clean diesel, hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel powered vehicles. If you're getting ready to do homework on lifecycle costs for alternative fuel vehicles, here's an "Alt-Buyers Guide":
  • US Department of Energy website offers a comprehensive overview of alternative fuels and vehicle options, case studies, reports, links to interactive maps and other resources.
  • FuelEconomy.gov offers mileage and cruising range information on most AFVs, including a simple cost calculator.
  • Consumer Energy Center and the Department of Energy site's laws and incentives section are good for researching tax credits, rebates and grants from federal and state agencies.
  • Check out AltFuelPrices for a map with AFV refueling and recharging stations that includes CNG, biodiesel, hydrogen and ethanol.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
        • 8 Months Ago
        This is very cool and its good to see hydrogen produced on site rather than liquefied and trucked in. However, the Clarity is not yet a "practical alternative fuel vehicle option." It will be a few more years. The hydrogen powered Vision Tyrano, OTOH, is saving TTSI (Total Transportation Services Inc) tremendously on their fuel bill while also cleaning the air at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. http://www.tts-i.com/sustainability/hydrogen.html And hydrogen powered thousands of hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts are increasing productivity in warehouses throughout the USA.
      • 8 Months Ago
      although there are high capacity systems in high capacity places,hydrogen carriers beads or hydronol can be safe enough and cost competive enough, hydrogen pills to, to make low capacity early starters at minor nodes .and high cluster systems, to cover system and ad a temperary system, cover all needs,,home and to...leases, and land without taxes,,,,and or donated minor bisseness man plans,,,starters without tax,,, and multi bisness,bargains and contracts,,of useses to..as first year profits may not be that high but will be there for contracts, leases become bigger,controbuters and bisnesses,as well as small bisseness plan, serving,and small engines replace equipment,ss.pems,,,
      • 8 Months Ago
      If you live near one of the 2,400 filling stations that sells E85 ethanol, which is 85% renewable, cleaner burning biofuel, you already have a practical alternative. Flex fuel vehicles that can run equally easily on E85 or on gasoline are readily available new and used with no price premium over gasoline-only -- vehicles like sedans, SUVs, minivans, trucks, even full sized vans.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Not really financially practical when the vehicle runs 30% less efficient on E85 when compared to E10. Maybe it's good for the environment, but it's not good for the wallet.
          • 8 Months Ago
          You're right that adjusted for mileage you pay more for E85. But it has a higher octane rating than even premium. And unlike gasoline, ethanol burns with no soot, smoke, or particulate matter, so your car is less likely to be covered in gray or black dust needing to be washed. Unlike gasoline, ethanol deposits no gunk or sludge in your engine or fuel line, and needs no carcinogenic or mutagenic "detergents" such as the onse the gasoline companies brag about to avoid that - no lawsuits over cancer or birth defects. Finally, in the big picture and long run, ethanol IS good for your wallet, because it keeps our money here intsead of being drained away to OPEC, and forces gasoline to have some competition at the pump. According to a Merril Lynch study published by the (anti ethanol) Wall Street Journal, biofuels (of which ethanol is by far the most important) prevented oil from rising 15% higher than it did in 2008, saving Americans more than $100 billion.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I don't think the automakers are waiting. I call it more like stalling, or even trying to kill it.
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