NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

No Traction for Non-Gasoline Vehicles

December 2, 2013

With U.S. sales of plug-in electric vehicles on pace to reach half of President Barack Obama's goal, regulators are following customers and automakers to vehicles powered by other fuels, from hydrogen to diesel, says Bloomberg.

In September, the most recent month available, 9 percent of customers visiting the auto-information website considered a non-gasoline vehicle.

  • Hybrid-electrics such as Toyota's Prius were the most considered at 4.1 percent, followed by diesel with 2.1 percent.
  • Only 0.8 percent of customers shopped for a plug-in electric hybrid while 1.9 percent looked at fully electric cars.
  • Diesel is about one-third more fuel-efficient than gasoline in comparably sized vehicles, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Early in Obama's presidency, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu questioned the merits of hydrogen-powered cars and cut funding for fuel-cell research.

  • Administration officials began praising fuel cells in 2012 and recently announced $4 million in awards to develop better hydrogen storage systems that would benefit autos.
  • In September, California passed a measure to fund at least 100 hydrogen fueling stations as part of its clean-vehicle plans.

Automakers that sell vehicles in the United States must double their vehicles' average fuel economy by 2025 under rules Obama adopted. The target is considered impossible to achieve just by improving the gasoline engine.

Source: Angela Greiling Keane, "Diesel, Fuel Cells Get Spotlight as Plug-Ins Lose Favor," Bloomberg, November 11, 2013.


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