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Advocates see a multitude of fuel solutions in electric cars

To kick its addiction to oil, the United States needs a raft of alternatives; no single alternative is likely to replace such an entrenched market any time soon. But electric car advocates at the Electric Vehicle Symposium held recently in Los Angeles say battery-powered cars are the one alternative that can meet all needs. Electricity isn’t a fuel per se, only an “energy carrier.” To generate electricity, you have to produce power from some other fuel source, such as coal, oil, and nuclear, or harness energy from renewable source, such as wind, hydro, or solar. Interestingly, this flexibility answers some big concerns of alternative-fuel critics.

In covering the alternative fuel movement, we often encounter pushback from people who say they don’t know how this or that fuel will ever make sense where they live. Some say ethanol won’t work because there are no E85 pumps in much of the country, and the average price is often higher than gasoline once you factor in ethanol’s lower energy content. Yet in the upper Midwest, there’s no shortage of ethanol stations, and the fuel sells for significantly less than gasoline. (Learn more about ethanol.)

Others note that natural gas is not available in their region, and some report that electricity is produced from coal where they live.


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