Which cars can run on alternative fuel?

There have been over 43 million alternative fuel cars sold on the planet. Available fuel options include (1) electricity, (2) biodiesel, and (3) propane.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: May 20, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • There are many alternatives to fueling your car with gasoline
  • Alternative fueling methods can benefit the environment in a big way
  • Every alternative has its positives and negatives
  • However you fuel your car, you will need to find an appropriate filling station or method

From electric to hybrid to fuel cell to flex fuel to bio diesel down to even propane, there is something to learn about each of these alternative fuel vehicles below.

Check out the graphical list to see all of the different types that are available.

No matter what type of vehicle you have, though, be sure to enter your ZIP code on this page for FREE car insurance quotes!


Alternative Fuel Cars


Is oil the only option?

America loves the automobile.

Our major cities aren’t built for foot or bicycle traffic, but for buses, cars, and trucks. The United States is massive.

The heartland is responsible for growing much of our food, but it’s sparsely populated. To remedy this, grain, livestock, and other foodstuffs must be transported across vast distances to get arrive at (largely coastal) population centers.

Comparatively, the railway system is dwarfed when seen next to America’s network of roadways. While there are some high speed and commercial railways on the east coast and in the Midwest, the railroad has ceased to be the transportation force that it once was.

Because of this, numerous environmental groups have been lobbying for years to decrease our use of oil-derived fuels like gas.

Pumping oil out of the ground is a lengthy, expensive process that causes untold damage to the environment. Disasters like the gulf, oil spill further compound the negative impact that the oil industry can have on the environment.

The emissions that result from processing and burning gas in our vehicles are eroding the ozone layer that our planet has depended on for ages and thereby accelerating the process of global warming. All of these effects taken together create big trouble for this great planet.

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Types of Alternative Fuel Cars

What is one way we can all help save our planet and build a greener tomorrow? Alternative fuels!

— Dedicated Electric

It couldn’t be simpler. The dedicated electric car runs entirely on electricity. No gas is required. You plug it in when not in use (at night, during work, etc.) and it’s ready to go when you need it.

Because there are no tailpipe emissions, this car has a much more positive effect on the environment.

Where that electricity comes from in the first place (coal burning plant, nuclear plant, etc.) is another environmental issue, but it’s at least one less gas-burning car on the road.

— Flex Fuel

The “flex” in flex-fuel is ethanol. Ethanol is a high-test alcohol that is blended with gasoline to create something called “E-85.”

These cars can run on normal gasoline or the gas-ethanol blend.

The biggest motivation behind purchasing this type of car is that ethanol is a renewable resource. We can always make more ethanol because it is made out of corn. The downside to these vehicles is that their emissions still pollute the air.

— Propane

Yes, you read that right there are actually vehicles out there that run on propane, just like a barbecue grill.

These vehicles are supposedly more efficient, and thus emit fewer, dangerous, greenhouse gases, but they still rely on a non-renewable, fuel source.

This means, then, that, one day, this type of vehicle will one day be useless when all of the propane runs out.

— Hybrids 

Hybrid cars vehicles hit the scene quite a few years ago. They are triumphs of form and function, advertising incredible “gas mileage” because they didn’t always use gasoline.

These vehicles contain electric propulsion systems that can be recharged during the braking process. Under certain conditions, the car then draws on this electricity, decreasing the car’s reliance on gasoline.

This means that you:

  • Buy less gas
  • Use less gas over the life of the car
  • Produce a lower volume of greenhouse gasses (though you do still produce some).

— Biodiesel

Last but not least comes biodiesel. Believe it or not, all cars that are built to run on diesel can also run on biodiesel.

Biodiesel is actually just high-test, used, cooking oil that has been filtered.

Biodiesel users typically make their own (if they have a place to store gallons and gallons of used cooking oil) or fill up at special stations.

The emissions from biodiesel vehicles are 42 percent lower than standard diesel.

Alternative Fuel, Car Statistics

Given all that info, you may think that alternative fuel vehicles are few and far between. Think again. There have been over 43 million alternative fuel cars sold across the world as of 2011. Let’s see the breakdown:

  • Dedicated Electric – 160,000 cars. You can get a Nissan Leaf for $32,000 or a Tesla Roadster for about $130,000
  • Hybrid Electric – 3.3 million cars. Try a BMW hybrid if you’ve got a spare $90,000 lying around or get the Ford Fusion for about a third of that
  • Biodiesel – Grab a Biodiesel BMW for $45,000. The Volkswagen Jetta goes for about half of that, though
  • Flexi-Fuel – Vehicles number 22.6 million worldwide, with the Chevy Malibu LS going for an affordable $28,000
  • Propane – There are just over 11 million natural gas powered vehicles on the road. You can get a propane-powered Civic for about $15,000

Alternative Fuel Filling Stations

If you happen to have an E-85 capable vehicle and you’re wondering where to fill it up, check out this handy map to see where you can find the most, filling stations by state.

Other types of alternative fuels (like electrical and hybrid) don’t need a special, filling station. They only require the money needed to purchase the vehicle.

No matter what type of car you drive enter your ZIP code in now to see how much money you might be able to save with FREE car insurance quotes!

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