Alternative Energy/Hybrid Vehicles

With the concern over global warming increasing and the cost of gas rising, many people are turning to alternative energy/hybrid vehicles. Governments throughout the world, including the United States, also are seeking alternative technologies to reduce their reliance on petroleum and decrease emissions.
This guide is designed to provide you with information on various alternative fuels and technologies, how they work, and if you are interested in purchasing one, how to buy an alternative energy/hybrid vehicle. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should provide with a good place to start.
Many alternative fuel sources and technologies are being explored; no one technology is considered the best option to solve our world’s reliance upon petroleum. As a result, resources are provided below for biodiesel, ethanol, flex fuel, hybrid, hydrogen, and natural gas vehicles.

Internet Resources

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is charged with researching the possibility of increasing the energy efficiency of America’s cars and trucks and with providing a suitable infrastructure for these new vehicles. Included in the Office’s mission is the development of emission- and petroleum-free cars and trucks and safe, environmentally-friendly mass transit options for a greater number of Americans.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Data Center offers information on the different types of fuels and vehicles that employ alternative technologies. Provides statistical information, such as the number of alternative energy vehicles produced. Additional information on state and federal incentives and laws is given as well.

U.S. Department of Energy’s Fueleconomy.gov
Provides a wealth of information on hybrid, ethanol, and alternative energy vehicles. In addition to detailing the various technologies and how they work, this site gives information on tax incentives and tips on how to drive more efficiently. Information on miles per gallon (MPG) and fuel economy ratings also is given.

California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center

In many ways, California is leading way in the demand for alternative energy. Offers general background information on alternative energy sources as well as links to articles on the various types of alternative fuels/vehicles, including: biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), electric vehicles (EVs), ethanol (E85), gas-to-liquid fuels, hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), LPG and CNG conversions, and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs).

About.com’s Hybrid Cars & Alternative Fuels
About.com is a great place to start when you have general questions about a topic. Learn about: the basics of alternative energy; get information on the types of vehicles available and the types of fuel; keep up-to-date on current legislation; and, answer your questions about how to buy the right type of alternative energy vehicle for you.


About.com’s Biodiesel 101
To learn more about biodiesel, check out About.com. This webpage gives information on the
maintenance of a biodiesel vehicle and a map of where the fuel can be purchased in America.

Ethanol/Flex Fuel Vehicles

About.com’s What is Ethanol?

Ethanol, like biodiesel, is an alternative fuel. Sold as a blend with gasoline, this fuel decreases emissions and reliance on petroleum as the average ratio of ethanol to gas is 85% to 15%. About.com provides an excellent introduction to ethanol and flex fuel vehicles and is a good starting point for your research needs.

National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition
The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, a non-profit organization, is an advocacy group for the use of E85 fuel as an alternative fuel source. Their primary mission is to educate consumers, legislators, and others about the benefits of ethanol as well as increase the use of E85 and flex fuel vehicles. The frequently asked questions page provides a wealth of information on ethanol and flex fuel vehicles, including price of fuel and maintenance.

About.com’s E85 Compatible Vehicles

Find out if your car is a flex fuel vehicle. Flex fuel vehicles run on gasoline and ethanol blends, and About.com provides a list of E85 (ethanol blend fuel) compatible vehicles going back to 1995. This site also provides important information on how to confirm compatibility based on your vehicle’s identification number (VIN).

Hybrid Vehicles

National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Hybrid & Fuel Cell Vehicles
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory functions as America’s premier research and development facility for renewable energy projects. This website provides information on variety of projects, but of particular interest is the research being done on hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

Electric Drive Transportation Association

The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) offers information on electric drive vehicles, including: plug-in, hybrid, fuel cell, and battery operated. This site describes each type of vehicle, how it works, why it’s useful, how it’s being promoted in the industry, and the advantages and disadvantages for consumers. Additional information on legislation, tax credits, and state laws is provided. The EDTA is an industry association based in the U.S. that offers consumer “information, education, industry networking, public policy advocacy and international conferences and exhibitions.”

Hybrid Car Organization’s Hybrid Car
This website, published by the Hybrid Car Organization, contains information and articles about hybrid cars, HEV’s, electric cars, and gasoline electric technology. A good place to start when looking for background information on hybrid vehicles and its related technologies.

How hybrids work

HybridCenter.org’s Hybrids Under the Hood (part 1)
The HybridCenter.org, a project of the Union of Concerned Scientists, offers a detailed explanation of how hybrids use both gasoline and electric power to increase fuel efficiency. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit organization that is committed to ensuring global environmental health and “a safer world.”

How Stuff Work’s How Hybrid Cars Work
How Stuff Works is a good source of information on a variety of topics; it provides clear explanations for how everyday items are made and function. In this article, the authors, Karim Nice and Julia Layton, explain hybrid technologies and how to maximize fuel efficiency if you own a hybrid vehicle. Additional links are provided to other articles on hybrid vehicles.

Hydrogen/Fuel Cells

Fuel Cells 2000
Fuel Cells 2000, a project of the Breakthrough Technology Institute, provides information on both fuel cells and hydrogen energy. Learn about: the inner workings of fuel cells, the different types; their applications; and, the advantages to using them for energy efficiency. Information on hydrogen is also provided as fuel cells use hydrogen to produce electricity. According to the website, “Fuel Cells 2000’s mission is to promote the commercialization of fuel cells and hydrogen by supplying accurate, unbiased information, developing and disseminating summary materials accessible to a general audience, and providing a portal for researchers, developers, suppliers, government officials, opinion leaders and others interested in the sector.”

Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Vehicles
The Union of Concerned Scientists provides a detailed description a fuel cell vehicle and how it works. Learn the pros and cons of owning this type of vehicle as well as the cost, performance rating, and market availability.

Transportation Energy: A Student’s Guide to Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Ever wondered how fuel cells power a car? The California Energy Commission’s Energy Quest project provides the answer. This kid-friendly explanation details the inner workings of fuel cells and even provides additional information on the various other types of alternative energy fuel sources and vehicles.

Natural Gas

International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles
Natural gas or methane is another alternative fuel source that dramatically reduces emissions and our reliance on petroleum. Natural gas fuels include compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide information on natural gas as an alternative energy source as well as promote its growth and use throughout the world.

Natural Gas Vehicles for America
Learn more about natural gas vehicles, their environmental benefits, and who the primary users are from Natural Gas Vehicles for America. NGVAmerica’s mission is to promote natural gas in America while helping to build a sustainable and growing market for its use.

Buying an Alternative Energy/Hybrid Vehicle

Hybrid Cars
There are many types of alternative energy/hybrid vehicles. Each year, additional models are released. As more and more choices are offered, it will be important to evaluate the options and packages available. For instance, MPG, reliability, and cost are significant factors in choosing a car, regardless of energy efficiency. Hybridcars.com, the source for this information, provides a convenient breakdown of cars and SUVs by technology type. You can also search by body type to find information on the vehicle that’s just right for you. This site includes a handy buying guide for those purchasing a hybrid vehicle as well. The authors of this website, Bradley Berman, John Voelcker, Reid Heffner, Shamit Choksey, and Michael Coates, all have backgrounds in automotive journalism, and Bradley Berman, the editor, writes for Business Week.

Automotive.com’s Hybrid Car Prices
Automotive.com will help find your next car, be it hybrid or gas-powered. You can search by make
or class to find a dealer, MSRP pricing, and learn about specs, safety features, and ownership


Motor Trend’s New Hybrid Cars
Motor Trend, a renowned name in the automotive industry, offers a webpage devoted to finding you next hybrid car. You can narrow your results by make and model to find information on pricing, crash test ratings, and safety. Offers photos, reviews, and specs on each car as well. This is a good place to start when looking for your next hybrid car.

Finding Print Resources

The subject headings below can be used to search public and academic libraries’ catalogs for titles of interest on alternative energy/hybrid vehicles. If you need assistance, please visit your local library and ask your librarian for help.

Subject headings: Alternative fuel vehicles; Alternative fuel vehicle industry; Automobile industry and trade; Biodiesel fuels; Compressed natural gas; Fuel cells; Fuel cell industry; Ethanol; Hybrid electric vehicles; Natural gas vehicles.

This pathfinder was created by Crystal Newell for Dr. Eileen Abels Info 780 Course at Drexel University, Spring, 2008.