The old-fashioned gas guzzling, pollution-spitting internal-combustion engine will soon be a thing of the past. Dwindling oil reserves and skyrocketing prices at the pump are among the driving forces that will send these dinosaurs to extinction.
Research and development in new green vehicle technologies is expanding at a staggering pace. Among the contenders that could power our vehicles are these developing technologies:
Best 8 Clean-Car Technologies
1. Plug-in Hybrids
With an extended all-electric range and the ability to recharge from a standard electrical outlet, these models will be on the market within a year or two. The extended all-electric range is achieved by the latest in battery technology. General Motors and Toyota are the front-runners.
2. Battery Electrics
As battery design and development races forward, electric cars will boast a longer range between charges and the ability to recharge quickly. Nissan and Chrysler both plan to release an all-electric vehicle by next year.
3. Range Extenders
This unique design uses an all-electric drive system with a gasoline generator on-board to extend the battery range to an amazing 400 miles. The gasoline engine is not connected to the drive train, but provides electrical current to the batteries. This technology has been unique to General Motors until recently when Chrysler announced a range-extender version of its minivan.
4. Very Small Cars
The popularity of very small cars is growing in America. The Toyota iQ and the Smart cars are among the leaders with an amazing 60 mpg possible.
5. Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells are an interesting technology, but still far in the future. Although hydrogen is the most available element in the universe, the cost of the fuel and the vehicles themselves will remain very high for some time. The major contenders in this market are General Motors and Honda, both of which have hydrogen-powered vehicles in testing now.
6. Biodiesel from Salad Oil
Vegetable oils, both new and used, can be converted to 100% biodiesel and will run efficiently in any diesel engine. Home refineries are available in kit form and can produce biodiesel for pennies on the dollar. One problem with this technology is the fear of using food sources for fuel.
7. Liquid Hydrogen
Although BMW has developed a liquid hydrogen automobile, the cost of the vehicle and the fuel is prohibitive. In addition, there are safety concerns to deal with.
Many new vehicles are currently designed to run on gasoline or ethanol. In most parts of the US, ethanol is still not available. Another problem with ethanol is the fear of using food crops for fuel. There just isn’t enough farm land to produce the amount of ethanol needed to make a serious dent in fuel needs.