Comparing Green Car Technology Options

These days, there are several energy-efficient powertrains, but which automotive technology is most likely to replace the gas engine? Which will become your new ride? 


By Todd Kaho 

Gasoline Engines 

Efficient Gasoline Engines

Pros: Newer automotive technologies such as direct fuel injection and turbocharging increase power and gas mileage

Cons: Some of these advanced features can add cost and complexity; still dependent on foreign oil

Infrastructure: Gasoline easiest to find of any motor fuel


Electric Vehicles


Electric Vehicles

Pros: Cheaper to operate than most other fuels; zero tailpipe emissions; convenient home charging; potential to get cleaner over time as more renewable energy (such as wind, solar) is added to our energy mix

Cons: Range anxiety, can’t realistically go cross-country; batteries are expensive

Infrastructure: About 6,000 public charging stations nationwide; growing steadily


Compressed Natural Gas


Compressed Natural Gas

Pros: Domestically sourced fuel in abundant supply; cleanest emissions for an internal combustion engine; potential for home fueling and dual-fuel flexibility

Cons: High-pressure fuel tanks; dual-fuel vehicles require two separate fueling systems and limits passenger/cargo space

Infrastructure: About 1,000 fueling stations in the United States


Gasoline Electric Hybrid


Gasoline-Electric Hybrid

Pros: Now a well-refined green car technology; adaptable to many types of vehicles; great drivability and gas mileage; no need to plug in

Cons: Advanced batteries are still expensive and heavy; battery materials come from foreign countries; can’t plug in

Infrastructure: Gasoline available everywhere


Clean Diesel


Clean Diesel

Pros: 30 to 35 percent better fuel economy than gas; great performance thanks to generous torque; renewable biofuel potential; superb engine longevity

Cons: Petrodiesel dependent on foreign oil; more expensive to produce than gasoline engines; more complex emissions controls; debatable energy return on biofuels options

Infrastructure: Diesel fuel readily available





Pros: Good choice for fleet use; less expensive than gasoline; clean-burning; possible to convert gas vehicles to propane; domestically produced fuel

Cons: Misunderstood fuel; lower energy content than gasoline and lower mpg equivalency rating

Infrastructure: 2,500 fueling stations in the United States


Plug-In Hybrid Electric


Plug-In Hybrid Electric

Pros: Impressive fuel economy; ability to operate greater distances with zero tailpipe emissions; home charging adds convenience, greater all-electric range

Cons: Requires even larger and more expensive batteries; added weight

Infrastructure: About 6,000 public charging stations nationwide; growing steadily


Flex Fuel


Flex Fuel E85 Ethanol

Pros: Partially a domestically sourced fuel; low-cost upgrade on most vehicles

Cons: Up to 30 percent lower fuel economy than gasoline; misunderstood fuel that can damage vehicles not designed for its use

Infrastructure: 2,500 stations nationwide; best coverage in the Midwest


Hydrogen Fuel Cell


Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Pros: Electric drive provides good power; tailpipe emissions are water vapor and heat; hydrogen is the most abundant element on Earth

Cons: Hydrogen is currently expensive and power-intensive to produce; fueling stations concentrated in the Southwest

Infrastructure: Fewer than 100 public fueling stations in the United States


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters