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Transportation & Fuel Source Technology

Automobile Manufacturers Urge Americans to Discover Alternative Fuel Automobiles

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen, has launched an initiative,, in support of alternative fuel automobiles in Illinois.

"Alternative fuel autos of all kinds are a reality today. Whether it's achieving greater fuel economy or reducing America's reliance on oil as a primary fuel source, automakers remain committed to populating America's roadways with innovative vehicle technologies," said Fred Webber, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

In the past five years, the number of alternative fuel automobiles on our nation's roadways has more than doubled. In addition to the more than 40 alternative fuel vehicles on sale in dealer showrooms across America, there are more than 30 more advanced vehicles, including hybrids, clean diesels and ethanol capable vehicles in development.

"Consumers can now choose from a growing list of safe, reliable vehicles that offer greater fuel efficiency and utilize alternative fuel sources. It's clear that automakers are responding to these demands," said Greg Blankenship, director of the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization dedicated to Illinois state public policy issues. Currently, there are 162,332 alternative fuel vehicles on the road in Illinois.

Quick Facts About Alternative Fuel Autos


Hybrid-electric vehicles refer to powertrains that use a battery-powered electric motor, a gasoline internal combustion engine, and a concept known as regenerative braking to power the vehicle. To optimize performance, emissions, and fuel efficiency, a computer is used to manage the energy from these three systems.

The computer senses the driving mode and the battery state of charge and then directs energy from either the battery system or the gasoline engine to the most appropriate drive train component, an electric motor or an engine drive shaft. Regenerative braking systems, which recover energy that is otherwise wasted, allow hybrids to be especially fuel-efficient in stop-and-go city driving. Utilizing these hybrid technologies, fuel economy can be improved by up to 25 percent over conventional automobiles.

Clean Diesel

"Clean Diesel" is a petroleum-based distillate fuel containing very low amounts of sulfur. The primary purpose of lower sulfur diesel fuel is to enable or improve the performance of emission control systems. Lower sulfur also reduces particulate emissions even without any emission control device. EPA requires refiners to produce ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, which has a maximum sulfur level of 15 parts per million, beginning in 2006. Widespread availability of this fuel in the U.S. marketplace will enable automakers to introduce ultra-clean diesel vehicles that are capable of meeting the same emission standards as gasoline vehicles.


Ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, is blended with gasoline to create E85 motor fuel for use in spark-ignited engines. E85 is a mixture of nominally 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Vehicles are specially designed to run on E85; those that can also run on any mixture of gasoline and ethanol up to E85 are called flexible fuel vehicles. Ethanol is produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops (such as corn, barley and wheat) that have been converted into simple sugars. Ethanol also can be produced from "cellulosic biomass" such as trees and grasses. When this feedstock is used, the fuel is called bioethanol. Ethanol is most commonly used to increase octane and improve emissions.

For a complete list of alternative fuel technologies and to learn more about alternative fuel automobiles visit

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 9 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen. For more information on advanced fuel-savings technology, visit the Alliance website at

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