Consumers and producers of alternative fuel in a ‘Catch-22’ situation

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Consumer acceptance, fuel infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities should develop hand-in-hand to avoid deadlock in the diffusion of alternative-fuel vehicles, according tp Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers Struben and Sterman.

The writers state that the key factors slowing the adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles are the extended lifetimes of today’s vehicles, the low efficiency of alternative fuels and concern about finding fuel caused by a lack of alternative-fuel stations. These are the outcomes of a model of the market for vehicles running on energy sources such as hydrogen and biofuels. The model is based on the development of energy technology on the one hand and factors such as emotion and social status on the other. All this drives the need for cars, according to Struben and Sterman. 

They conclude that long-term incentives, perhaps even lasting decades, will be necessary to bring the market to a level of self-sustainability. Marketing programmes, subsidies and policy measures should stimulate both supply and demand for alternative-fuel stations and vehicles to enforce the positive scenario.

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