It seems like every week another major automaker announces it will “electrify” its vehicle lineup. In just the past few months, Mercedez-Benz, Ford, Audi, Maserati, GM, BMW, and more have committed to electrification by adding more electric vehicle (EV) options to their fleet.
What makes these announcements particularly intriguing is that many of the automakers are following the electrification model of Volvo. They’re not just offering a few brand-new vehicles that run solely on electricity. They’re building plug-in hybrid models that can use both gasoline and electricity, and hyper-efficient models that run solely on gasoline but utilize an electric motor to improve fuel economy. Automakers should not stop there.
As great as electric vehicles are, they are not the only alternative to gasoline or diesel vehicles. There are 22 million flex-fuel vehicles that can run on both ethanol and gasoline. Little effort is required for automakers to ensure that all their vehicles are flex-fuel. Ideally, automakers will begin “flexing” their vehicles and giving consumers more choice in both the fuels and the cars they enjoy driving.
Combining flex-fuel technology with electrification could provide the best of two worlds, with buyers as the clearest winner: Want an SUV with reduced fuel costs for your daily commute, but also with enough power and range to tow a boat to the lake on the weekends? You got it. Always wanted a sports car but couldn’t justify the emissions and fuel costs? You have that option too.
This means that people who may not be ready to take the leap to a fully electric or biofuel-only capable vehicle can be brought into the fold and join the alternative fuel revolution. Assuring people that they’ll never suffer from “range anxiety” could go a long way toward increasing the number of alternative fuel vehicles on the road.
Imagine a future where consumers have the ability to choose between not just two, but three fuels (gasoline, electricity, and ethanol). Now that would be fuel choice.