The Confusion Over Which 'Green' Car Will Succeed

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Gasoline-powered cars run on gas. It is as simple as that. Regular or high-grade-which depending on the motor.

The theory behind the creation of non-gas-powered cars, or partially gas powered cars is that the supply of fossil fuels will eventually be exhausted. That may happen in 30 years or a century from now. No one knows. In the meantime, gas will get more expensive and gasoline emissions will continue to hurt the environment.

PSA Peugeot Citroen is about to launch the world's first diesel-electric engine, according to Bloomberg. It will join the race to replace gasoline-based engines. That race currently includes all-electric cars such as GM's Chevy Volt, clean-diesel vehicles from VW, hybrids -- a market currently dominated by Honda and Toyota -- and ultra-efficient gas-powered cars which have been pioneered by Ford. Ethanol-fueled cars are available in some states as well. Solar- and water-powered vehicles may come to market within a few decades, according to many experts.

The challenge to all of these new technologies is that most of them do not work very well as replacements for traditional vehicles. Electric cars cannot go very far without recharging and there are not many places to recharge them. It is still hard to find locations with diesel fuel. Batteries do not hold charges well and are expensive to build.

The largest hurdle car companies face is consumer confusion. A car buyer who has bought gasoline-powered cars all their lives cannot possibly evaluate with any reasonable certainty which of the new technologies will work -- particularly given the fact that experts do not know those answers and continue to debate the merits of one technology over others.

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Douglas A. McIntyre

Douglas McIntyre is editor of 24/7 Wall St.

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