The General Accounting Office was asked to assess the experiences of other countries that have used alternative fuels. GAO's study focused on the alternative fuel programs of Brazil, Canada, and New Zealand--countries that energy experts identified as leaders in encouraging the use of alternative fuels. Briefly, GAO found the following: The experiences of these three countries have shown that introducing and sustaining the use of alternative fuels will most likely not be achieved easily or quickly. Each government was the catalyst for action on alternative fuels, and this leadership proved important in helping remove economic and technological barriers and persuading industry and consumers that alternative fuels were important. Government planning and cooperation with industry was also important in developing technologies and marketing these fuels. But consistent long-term govenment commitment was somewhat difficult to maintain because of resource constraints and other reasons. Failure to maintain this commitment, in some cases, had a strong negative impact on sustaining the use of alternative fuels. Participation by the fuel, automotive, and utility industries was vital in attracting and retaining consumers for alternative fuels and vehicles in each country. Alternative fuel initiatives struggled when industry was not actively involved in developing vehicle technologies, building a fueling infrastructure, and marketing programs. Consumer acceptance was essential to the use of alternative fuels in these countries. A favorable price for the fuels relative to gasoline strongly influenced the ability to interest private motorists and fleet operators in using alternative fuels. Regulation, lower taxes on alternative fuels, higher taxes on gasoline, or subsidies were used to create or enlarge a price advantage. Consumer acceptance was also influenced by such factors as vehicle performance and reliability and the availability of convenient fueling. When the price of alternative fuels did not compare favorably to the price of gasoline, or when these other factors made alternative fuels less attractive, officials in each country said that their continued use was adversely affected.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to the Chairman, Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Subcommittee, Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1992-5


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 104 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00624863
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-92-119
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 1 1993 12:00AM