Consumers have a variety of fuels to run their cars and light trucks. It won't be long before we see compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas added to the mix.
No one realizes the amount of infrastructure needed to add a fuel to the automotive menu.
When electric cars came on the scene, their one great advantage was that electricity was available in just about everyone's home. While it still took a long time to recharge the batteries, it could be done easily overnight at home. Even so, it cost a lot of money to provide 240 volts to a customer who wanted to halve the recharging time.
Even today, a big drawback to the use of diesel fuel in cars is that it is not widely enough available. That's true particularly for residential communities. Diesel got its foothold in the United States as the fuel for heavy-duty trucks, and for decades it was available only at truck stops. Today its distribution is far greater, but diesel still doesn't have the universal availability of gasoline.
Compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas probably will succeed first with local fleets that return every night to a central garage. Local furniture companies, say, and schools are the perfect early clients. Later, fueling stations will spring up and availability will slowly spread.
A vehicle purchased in Seattle can show up in Miami just a couple of days later, so any new fuel will need repair facilities and fueling outlets everywhere before it can find widespread popularity.
Economics will be the most important driver in the adoption of any new fuel, but it is happening.
Throw in all the work being done on hybrids, ethanol, methanol, biomass, E85 blends and compressed air, and it seems like the only fuel or propulsion system missing is the steam engine. There is already talk about when a hydrogen-powered vehicle will be available. It won't be long.
All of this is great for the industry and the consumer. Giving the customer a choice is always good.
It's important, though, to realize that the gasoline-powered car has a hundred-year head start. Any new fuel will have to demonstrate its superiority in the marketplace.
That's true for every system developed for the car, from sound to brakes to engines.
That's what makes this business so exciting. So where's the 48-volt battery?