The Importance of Alternative Fuels for Automotive Manufacturers, Consumers, and the Environment

 

Alternative fuels, including E85, biodiesel, propane, natural gas, and hydrogen, share two key benefits. They are environmentally friendly fuel sources that reduce greenhouse emissions and they are often domestically produced. Concerns over the thinning ozone layer and loss of natural resources as well as the desire for reduced dependence on foreign oil mean demand for vehicles that run on alternative energy sources.

 

ALTERNATIVE FUEL PROS AND CONS

Consumers driving vehicles running on alternative fuel sources benefit from the feel-good sensation that comes from doing something socially conscious and environmentally friendly. Alternative fuel options available for GMC vehicles include diesel, ethanol/E85 flex-fuel, compressed natural gas, and liquefied petroleum gas. Some of the fuel alternatives save money at the pump while others actually cost a bit more, but a fuel-efficient GMC vehicle helps to close the occasional price gap.

 

EFFECT ON AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS

Dealing with pressure to respond to consumer demand, the automotive industry faces the challenge of making vehicles that offer performance while protecting the environment. To keep up vehicle performance, adaptations such as engine changes, emission system changes, and on-board fuel storage changes become a necessity. GMC's engineers look at everything, vehicle aerodynamics, powertrain, emissions systems, and alternative fuels. This is where GMC's fuel-efficient vehicles really work to meet demand.

 

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

While fuel efficiency and saving money at the pump are important, the way the vehicle performs is the real test. Drivers today can enjoy driving down the road in a powerful, fuel-efficient GMC vehicle. Some types of GMC vehicles are on the market now, but consumers will have to wait to see if vehicles running some of these other fuel alternatives emerge as options in the future:

  • E85 FlexFuel: Made from corn and other plants, E85 reduces greenhouse emissions while increasing a vehicle's power and performance. Fueling stations offering E85 are easier to find than sources of some of the other alternative fuels, especially in the states known as corn-belt states. Other than hybrids, almost all GMC gasoline V8's, including 2012 Sierra models, 2010 or newer Yukon 1500, and Savana can run on E85.
  • B20 Biodiesel: Available in the GMC Sierra 2500 HD, Sierra 3500 HD as well as the Savana, and produced from vegetable oil, biodiesel burns cleaner than regular diesel fuel. Nontoxic biodiesel does less environmental damage if spilled. Plus, it's safe to handle, store, and transport biodiesel due to a higher flash point.
  • Propane: Propane performs well with only one main drawback. A limited fueling infrastructure means drivers won't find a lot of places to fill up the tank. The benefits of propane-fueled vehicles, such as the 2010 or newer GMC Savana Cargo, include the following: It burns clean; it performs powerfully because higher octane equals more potential horsepower; and it's nontoxic.
  • Natural gas: Natural gas vehicles, such as the 2011 or newer Savana Cargo, produce lower emissions than gasoline. The main drawback of this fuel type is limited fueling station access.