Slowly but surely, the number of vehicles in America that can burn something other than just gasoline is growing. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the number of alternative fuel vehicles in U.S. fleets in 2009 was 826,318, up approximately 7 percent from 2008. Why 2009? Well, the EIA seems to crank out its alt-fuel vehicle estimates a year or so after the fact.
Despite this growth, the EIA says that, due mainly to the limited availability of ethanol, an increase in alternative fuel vehicles does not equate to an actual upsurge in the use of alternative fuels. More specifically, the EIA says, "The limited availability and economic viability of E85 fuel means that the vast majority of alternative fuel vehicles owned by individuals burn traditional (gasoline and diesel) fuels." Bummer.
Vehicles consuming alternative fuels are primarily part of fleets owned by Federal, State and local governments where access and use of alternative fuels have been established and mandated under various guidelines. According to the EIA, five states (California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina) accounted for 40 percent of the U.S.' fleet of alternative fuel vehicles in 2009. California, as one might expect, led the way with 16 percent.
EIA estimates that the total inventory of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) in fleets in 2009 was about 826,318, up about 7% from 2008. Despite this growth, the availability of potential AFVs does not equate to actual use of AFVs because of uneven access to transportation fuels, specifically for ethanol.
The limited availability and economic viability of E85 fuel means that the vast majority of AFVs owned by individuals burn traditional fuels (gasoline and diesel). Gasoline and diesel electric hybrids are not AFVs as defined in the Energy Policy Act of 1992; their predominant fuel source is not an alternative fuel.
Vehicles consuming alternative transportation fuels are primarily part of fleets owned by Federal, State and local governments; fuel providers; transit agencies; or other private entities, where access to an alternative fuel has been established in response to various legislative regulations, incentives, and environmental interests.
Five states accounted for 40% of the fleet AFVs in use in 2009:
California (16% of all U.S. AFVs)
North Carolina (4%)