alternatively fueled cars

Will Gas Prices Make the Case for Alternatively-Fueled Cars

Alternatively-fueled cars

Image by Ed Harvey via Pexels

It can’t have escaped your notice that fuel prices are climbing lately. In June 2022, the national average price of gas was up 63% from its position a year earlier. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a reduction in global oil industry activity, while the war in Ukraine saw cuts to some Russian oil exports. Energy companies have also been hesitant to drill more to meet demand in order to keep share prices high for their stockholders.

While this is certainly a problematic situation, it’s also worth considering whether it could be an opportunity. Alternatively-fueled cars are becoming more accessible to the general public and have less of a negative impact on the environment. So, could rising gas prices make the case for alternatively-fueled cars? Let’s look at some important considerations.

What Are the Alternative Fuels?

One key barrier to switching to a different fuel type is the public doesn’t have a full understanding of the relative advantages and disadvantages of each. 

The core alternative fuels and their main considerations include:

Hydrogen

Hydrogen vehicles are a positive option because they produce no emissions other than water vapor. They also tend to be more fuel efficient than traditional gas. This isn’t just useful for domestic users, though. Industries with refrigerated vehicles as part of the so-called “cold chain” are utilizing sensors in the internet of things (IoT) to maintain the integrity of their cargo. Using hydrogen fuel can help to minimize energy costs both in transportation and running the technology used to store and monitor products. Indeed, there are additional benefits to using the IoT sensors to continually monitor the condition and efficiency of fuel cells, creating a positive cycle of influence.

The key con for hydrogen fuel is related to infrastructure. There are relatively few places to refuel a hydrogen vehicle compared to other types. This can be especially problematic for those traveling long distances. It often requires planning ahead to note appropriate fueling stations on your route.

Electricity

Electric vehicles are proving to be among the most important travel solutions of our contemporary time. They are quiet and produce no emissions. They’re also gradually becoming more accessible. Prices have dropped in recent years as more manufacturers are getting involved with production. A growing number of cities have also committed to providing better refueling infrastructure, too. 

The main drawback of electric vehicles, at the moment, is the long charge times. This isn’t going to be as convenient for those taking long trips without incorporating lengthy stops into travel plans. It’s also the case where unless you’re utilizing a renewable electricity supply, the refueling prices are still going to be dictated by the costs of nonrenewable fuels.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel’s primary pro is it produces far lower emissions than diesel while still producing comparable power. Indeed, the crops grown to produce biodiesel tend to offset any carbon dioxide produced. It’s also considered to improve engine life by providing good lubrication.

Nevertheless, biodiesel can be more costly in some areas than traditional diesel, due to limited local distribution. Biofuel could also cause greater levels of wear and tear in pipes throughout the vehicle. 

What Incentives Might Apply?

The rise in fuel prices may not be enough on its own to make a difference. However, money is still a key consideration for many vehicle owners. The price hike, coupled with other financial incentives, could be a spur for making the change. 

This can be especially relevant for people already considering buying a new car. Usually, the best time financially to buy a new car is toward the end of the year. This is because there are better factory rebates, which can allow dealers to offer lower rates or seasonal deals. However, the incentive of not having to wait until a set time of year to buy a lower-cost vehicle could be influential. Federal tax credits are available for purchasing a new electric or plug-in vehicle year-round. The reduction of up to $7500 in the price of the vehicle can essentially make it more cost-effective than most traditional cars or even some used vehicles. 

There are also various types of state tax incentives available. For instance, Colorado and some areas of California provide their own rebates in addition to the Federal option. From a business perspective, New York offers vouchers for the purchase of alternative fuel trucks and buses. In Arizona, alternative fuel drivers can even park without penalty in areas traditional fuel drivers can’t.

What Other Steps Could Drivers Take?

Even with the incentives of reduced vehicle prices and the higher costs of traditional fuel, there will be many people who still can’t afford to make the switch. Let’s face it, the used market of alternatively-fueled vehicles isn’t yet at the point in which most people can afford to invest. So, what cost-saving and environmentally sustainable steps could driver’s take? 

Human-powered transportation is one of the key options in towns and cities considered to be more walkable. This could include riding a bike, a scooter, or a longboard for anything but necessary long trips or those requiring transportation of goods. This reduces reliance on expensive fuels and mitigates the emissions from vehicles.

Public transportation and ride-sharing arrangements are also good options for those needing to commute to work every day. This is usually more cost-effective than independently paying the rising fuel prices for utilizing a vehicle every day. Indeed, many cities are in the process of switching their public transportation to electric and renewable options. This could help keep costs low and improve the impact on the environment.

Conclusion

The rising costs of fuel could influence some drivers to utilize more affordable and greener alternative fuel vehicles. However, this likely needs to be coupled with a greater understanding of each fuel’s benefit and the potential tax incentives. If you’re thinking about making the change, take the time to also discuss the advantages you’ve discovered with your friends and family. This is important, even if you need to take alternative steps, like public transportation. The more people you can educate about alternatively-fueled vehicles, the better chance we have for a greener transportation system.

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