Advanced Vehicles and Fuels Basics
We can improve the fuel economy of our cars, trucks, and buses by designing them to use the energy in fuels more efficiently. And we can help to reduce our nation's growing reliance on imported oil by running our vehicles on renewable and alternative fuels. Advanced vehicles and fuels can also put the brakes on air pollution and improve our environment.
At least 250 million vehicles are in use in the United States today. They include all kinds of passenger cars, trucks, vans, buses, and large commercial vehicles. It takes an enormous amount of fuel to operate these vehicles every year.
Because the nation's oil supplies are limited, we import more than half the petroleum that we use for transportation and other important needs. To reduce the costs and risks of these imports and improve the environment, researchers are developing newer, more energy-efficient fuels and vehicles and finding ways to make fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel fuel last longer.
We can reduce the amount of transportation fuel we use in many different ways. For example, we can create designs that will lower a vehicle's weight and aerodynamic drag to make it "slip" through the air more easily. We can reduce the rolling resistance of tires. We can improve the combustion efficiency of the engine. And we can use a different propulsion system, such as a hybrid electric system.
Researchers at the NREL are helping the nation achieve these goals by developing transportation technologies like these:
- Advanced vehicle systems and components
- Alternative fuels
- Fuel cell, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles
In addition, NREL's specialists in vehicle testing and analysis contribute information, test results, and research studies that manufacturers can use to produce energy-efficient new vehicles and cleaner burning alternative fuels.