It's a brave new world for the future of autos: Electric cars will finally take off and drive themselves -- but don't say good-bye quite yet to fossil fuels.
By Anne VanderMey, reporter
FORTUNE -- While we're not going to see flying cars for a long, long while, the global automobile industry is indeed undergoing an epic transformation. The rising price of gas, stricter mileage requirements, and concerns about global warming are causing carmakers to rethink how we travel. In the U.S. a newly found 70-year supply of natural gas could mean more trucks powered by this plentiful fuel. Natural gas can also drive power plants, providing cleaner juice for all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. And don't count out the highly efficient combustion engine. Here's a look at where we're headed and how we'll get there.
For more on the Wheels of Tomorrow, click on the links below
This story is from the April 9, 2012 issue of Fortune.
FORTUNE -- In March, the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would have provided billions of dollars in tax credits to boost deployment of natural-gas-powered vehicles. That won't stop billionaire energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, who championed the plan. He still believes natural gas is the best way to help America reduce its dependence on foreign oil. Some 112,000 natural-gas vehicles -- mostly trucks and buses -- already occupy MOREApr 2, 2012 5:00 AM ET
FORTUNE -- Despite rising gas prices, all-electric cars haven't sold as well as manufacturers had hoped. Range anxiety, a scarcity of charging stations, and the high cost of lithium-ion batteries have turned off many consumers. Says Mike Omotoso, a senior manager at the research firm LMC Automotive: "When families look at the big picture, gas-powered cars are still a lot cheaper than electric ones."
But the landscape is changing. The number MOREApr 2, 2012 5:00 AM ET
FORTUNE -- The global auto market is huge -- some 1 billion vehicles ply the roads today. Electrics and hybrids constitute only a small fraction of the total, and it will be decades -- if ever -- before they become a dominant technology. In the meantime, engineers are boosting the efficiency of gasoline and diesel engines to meet increasingly strict mileage standards. In the U.S. an automaker's fleet must average MOREApr 2, 2012 5:00 AM ET
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