In Minnesota on Friday, Adrian Moses was buying fuel for only 85 cents a gallon — E-85, gasoline mixed with 85 percent ethanol, made from corn grown in the United States. “This is made here in the Midwest, not in the Middle East,” says Moses.
But only about 1 percent of cars run on E-85.
The hottest technology to hit the roads involves so-called "hybrid" cars like Toyota’s Prius, which runs on both regular unleaded gasoline and electricity, but you never have to plug it in. The electricity is self-generating, with the car's batteries charging when the driver hits the brakes or coasts down a hill.
There’s huge demand for a car that gets up to 60 miles per gallon.
David Phillips was waiting for his brand-new Prius for 4-1/2 months. “It makes me feel fantastic,” Phillips says. “My timing has been perfect.”
Toyota and Honda have been selling hybrids for three years. Only now are American car makers getting in the game.
Ford’s Escape, a hybrid SUV that goes on sale this summer, gets up to 40 miles per gallon.
Ford executives, like Christine Feuell, believe it will satisfy America’s continuing love affair with big vehicles. “When we first started developing this program, we could have not predicted two-plus dollars of gasoline costs,” Feuell says.
Detroit has been producing hybrids for three years, but most consumers don’t know about it. At least 11 cities use the gas-electric engines in their buses.
What’s next? How about a car that doesn’t even need gasoline? On Friday, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, climbed into a prototype hydrogen fuel cell car.
Hydrogen is plentiful, and tests show it’s safe. When filled, hydrogen tanks are dropped, shot with a bullet or on fire don’t explode.
Back in traffic, in his hybrid, David Phillips is not only using less gas but has an added benefit. He’s allowed to drive solo in the HOV car pool lane.
Hybrids: saving money — and time.