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Apr 26, 2007


SEMA eNews, Vol. 10, No. 17 – April 25, 2007

Why the Largest Automotive Market in the United States Has More Hybrids, Diesels and E85 Vehicles

Residents of the Golden State continue to push for energy alternatives in automotive fuels. In a press release by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the group’s president, Dave McCurdy expresses, “The auto industry is a dynamic high-tech sector, and manufacturers are committed to selling vehicles that can run on something other than just gasoline. Consumers are taking notice.”

Figures from R.L. Polk & Co. verify the recent surge with vehicle data making the case for consumer interest. In 2006, hybrid-electric, ethanol-capable E85 and clean diesel autos numbered 837,743 on California roads. This illustrates a 17% jump from the previous year. National figures are equally significant. Over 1.5 million alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) were put on the streets in 2006—surpassing automaker expectations by 50%. At the end of 2006, the total number of AFVs on national roads exceeded 10.5 million.

Currently, automobile manufacturers have released 60 models for the year including cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans—a stark contrast to the 12 models offered in 2000. Vehicle technology has played the largest role in bringing AFVs to market. Modern engineering incorporates variable value timing, continuously variable transmissions, cylinder deactivation and other creations to increase fuel efficiency and improve power delivery. But, in addition to these advances, the latest buzz has come from the popularity of “green” products. “One of the most effective ways to increase fuel efficiency and to achieve energy independence is through the growing number of alternative-fuel automobiles,” said Brian Maas, director, government affairs for the California Motor Car Dealers Association. He added, “It’s clear that manufacturers and dealers are responding to the wants and needs of today’s drivers.”

California represents the largest vehicle market in the country in terms of total vehicles registered yet subscribes to one of the strictest emissions programs in the nation. Despite the addition of 200 new ethanol fueling stations throughout the county, there are only four E85 stations in California. Only a handful of diesel car models are available in this area with more coming in the near future. Presently, the majority of vehicles applying alternative fuels in the state are hybrid-electrics and diesel trucks.

Source: Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. (4/17/2007). “Number of Alternative Fuel Autos on California’s Roads Increased 17% in 2006.” Press release via PR Newswire.

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