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Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicles

hybrid vehicle

As vehicle technology continues to advance, the variety of vehicle types available is increasing rapidly.  Consumers and fleets can now choose to purchase vehicles that use an alternative fuel, an advanced hybrid powertrain, energy-efficient diesel, or simply a highly efficient conventional gasoline engine.  More choices, such as all-electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles, are on the horizon.  The Department of Energy provides a list of energy-efficient technologies that are offered on many vehicles available today.  More information on different types of alternative or advanced vehicles is available below.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), as defined by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct), include any dedicated, flexible-fuel, or dual-fuel vehicle designed to operate on at least one alternative fuel.  AFVs are available either as conversions or as original manufacturer equipment, and come in both light-duty passenger vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.  Commonly available fuel types include natural gas, propane, ethanol (in a flex-fuel vehicle), and all-electric vehicles. 

For more information, or to look up specific makes and models that are available, please visit the links below:

Diesel Vehicles
Diesel engines are extremely energy-efficient and durable. Modern vehicle technology, coupled with the use of cleaner Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuel, has significantly reduced the noise and smoke often associated with old diesel vehicles.  The heavy-duty vehicle industry has always leaned most heavily on diesel as its fuel of choice due to its power and performance, but the American light-duty automobile market has traditionally been dominated by gasoline.  However, many auto manufacturers are reintroducing diesel passenger vehicles in response to growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.  Although diesel fuel costs a bit more than gasoline, the higher fuel economy of diesel engines offsets this cost and may save money over time.

See the following links for more information:.

Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by electric motors rather than by engines.  The motor gets power from a battery pack which is usually plugged in to recharge, and the fuel cost per mile is significantly less expensive than gasoline.  Low-speed EVs, sometimes called neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), have been commercially available for several years and are well-suited for applications in which driving on major roadways is not needed.  These may include "closed campus" applications, which include vehicles used within a given facility (such as a university or wastewater treatment plant), and situations in which the vehicle is only traveling on residential streets with low posted speed limits.  EVs that are capable of performing at highway speeds have only recently become available but provide an exciting opportunity for energy diversity in the near future.

For more information on EVs, please visit the following links:

Fuel Cell Vehicles
Fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) have long been regarded as the future of transportation.  They are extremely efficient and, like electric vehicles, are powered by motors rather than engines.  The major difference in FCVs as compared to other types is that FCVs make their own electricity on-board the vehicle, eliminating the need for battery packs that store energy.  Although FCVs are still considered an emerging technology, several fuel cell vehicles are already in production and are being used as a demonstration project, usually on a lease term.  These projects generally happen in California and a select few other areas of the country, as most current FCVs require a hydrogen refueling network that exists in only a few areas.  FCVs may be powered by non-hydrogen fuels such as gasoline or natural gas, but this requires the vehicle to have additional equipment on board that will extract hydrogen from the fuels in order to make electricity.

For more information on FCVs, see the following links:

Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) have grown increasingly popular among passenger vehicles and are now available not only as sedans, but also as sport utility vehicles and trucks.  Although heavy-duty hybrids are not yet as commercialized, much research, development, and testing is being conducted to develop effective products for the heavy-duty sector.  Plug-in hybrid vehicles may be the next step for this technology, as the ability to plug in and recharge may significantly reduce the amount of time the hybrid powertrain uses the gasoline engine.

Learn more about HEVs by clicking the links below:.

SmartWay Certified Vehicles
The EPA SmartWay Program has developed the SmartWay and SmartWay Elite designations for vehicles that perform better than average in terms of both emissions and fuel economy.  This label is an easy way for consumers to identify conventional passenger vehicles that not only are good for the environment, but also will save money over time because they are highly fuel efficient.  EPA also offers SmartWay certification for certain heavy-duty tractors and trailers that have been manufactured with fuel-saving features.

For more information on SmartWay, please visit the following links:

4/27/2018 12/03/12   KT/CH

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