Yes, the cost of gasoline has risen dramatically in the last year and this expense is forcing changes in the equipment that consumes the gasoline. Now consumers have more choices than just the best gas mileage cars available, there are also several other options to pursue fuel efficient cars. As some drivers decide to go green, they need to consider all of the alternatives to find the right solution for them.
Hybrid cars are growing in popularity because they reduce gasoline consumption by use of electric power to supplement/replace the gas engine when operating the vehicle below peak power requirements (at idle or highway cruising). Although this combination does increase gas mileage, increase range and help preserve fossil fuel, it does not automatically qualify a hybrid as an economy car. Currently, the sticker prices for hybrid versions are significantly higher than the standard production models, diluting the overall savings.
Flex fuel vehicles are another approach to using less oil that is steadily gaining in popularity. Flex fuel or E85 ethanol is a blend of gasoline (15%) and corn based ethanol (85%) and it provides more power while burning cleaner than pure gasoline. Minor revisions to any production car will allow use of this alternative car fuel and the vehicle will still be able to use pure gasoline. Use of these cars is currently limited by the scarcity of locations which distribute E85 flex fuel.
Of course, there are still many other innovations to consider. Hydrogen fuel cells have been under development for some time. Electric cars are now commercially available as are natural gas cars. Many car manufacturers are also building smart engines which partially shut down for idling and cruising and provide full power only for acceleration or towing.
Not all efforts to improve fuel efficiency depend on vehicle technology. Drivers can have a major role in fuel economy by changing their habits. Eliminating jack rabbit starts, reducing average speed and keeping tires fully inflated can result in substantial increases in fuel economy.