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When asked, “what will be the next best automobile alternative to petroleum?” here’s how nearly 16,000 people responded:
- 33% chose hydrogen fuel cells
- 21% chose biofuels
- 21% chose electric (battery)
- 17% chose unknown/no opinion
- 2% chose compressed natural gas
- 2% chose liquefied natural gas
- 1% chose liquefied petroleum gas
As you can see, not are there a lot of possible options, but we’re pretty well divided between those options. Each alternative fuel has its pros and cons, but it unfortunately it appears that it’s the lack of definitive information that’s making it difficult for us to settle on “the next” fuel.
Why bother to ask the average Joe what he thinks about it, it's like asking him to decide whether we need to irradiate food (oh, wait, we did that. Turned out well, didn't it?) or stem cell research needs to be pursued (ditto on that one) perhaps we should leave it up to the experts.
Aside from which, saying they are all untested is not factually precise. Biodiesel is currently in use in several areas around the world, and there are even vehicles produced now that can burn it. You can just pour straight vegetable oil into most diesel engines and they will run just fine.
Personally, my next vehicle will probably be a diesel, one that is set up to run a variety of fuels right from the manufacturer (Mercedes Benz already offers one) would be preferred.
There's also the distinct possibility that we'll invest in an electric car for day to day commuting. There are several places in town that either offer or retrofit vehicles themselves to run on electricity.
I'm also not counting out the introduction of compressed air technology, two versions of which were featured on Beyond Tomorrow recently. These options aren't even mentioned in the poll.
So, which direction should we take? All of them. The only way to test which fuel is best is to subject them all to market forces and see which fuel system is successful in a open market place.
...and that means getting the government and it's associated popularity contests completely out of the picture.