Buying an Eco-Friendly Car

If you want to see if you have fueling stations available in your area, check out the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuel Data Center:
http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/infrastructure/refueling.html

Ethanol

Ethanol is a wheat-based fuel additive, based on corn, barley or wheat, that has been around for many years. E85 is the most popular "brand" of ethanol; it is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The benefit of this fuel is that it increases the octane in your fuel and reduces emissions. E85 also costs less for the consumer than traditional gasoline. Because the fuel is crop-based, many American farmers support ethanol and want to grow corn to fuel the country's escalating fuel needs. Ethanol is a good thing: it's domestically produced, crop-based and puts out reduced emissions.

Pros

Fuel versatility: Ethanol FFVs (Flexible Fuel Vehicles) allow you to use either E85 or regular gasoline. You are not tethered to your local E85 station; you can take a road trip and not worry about your refueling options.

Price: The price of E85, as mentioned above, is usually less than gasoline.

Vehicle selection: another pro on ethanol vehicles -- the variety of cars available. American carmakers have embraced this technology and offer station wagons, light-duty trucks, sedans and minivans with the FFV option. Check this Web site for a list of makes and models: http://www.e85fuel.com/e85101/flexfuelvehicles.php.

Overall, I would say ethanol is a great alternative fuel solution if you live in the Midwest or in a location where E85 fuel stations abound.

Cons

Refueling stations limited: The availability of E85 stations varies wildly, depending on where you live. According to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition's Web site, (http://www.e85fuel.com/database/search.php), there are no public E85 stations in the state of New York and one in California. In Illinois, there are more than 100 E85 stations listed. Check the map before you buy an ethanol vehicle.

Hydrogen

Much hype has been put into hydrogen cars. The reality is that they aren't happening now or anytime soon. There is no viable way to make hydrogen fuel without converting fossil fuels, no infrastructure for refueling stations, and no major car manufacturers planning a line of hydrogen vehicles.

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