Development of vehicles to operate on nonpetroleum fuels began in earnest in response to the energy shocks of the 1970s. While petroleum will remain the predominant transportation fuel for a long time, petroleum supplies are finite, so it is not too soon to begin the difficult transition to new sources of energy. In the past decade, composition of the fuel utilized in the internal combustion engine has gained recognition as a major factor in the control of emissions from the tailpipe of the automobile and the rate of formation of ozone in the atmosphere. Improvements in air quality can be realized by using vechicles that operate on natural gas, propane, methanol, ethanol, or electricity, but introduction of these alternative fuel vehicles presents major technical and economic challenges to the auto industry, as well as the entire country, as long as gasoline remains plentiful and inexpensive.

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