Analyzing the Sustainability of Various Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles in Selected Niche Vehicle Markets

Focus Area



Air Quality






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

This research should address the numerous technology and market opportunities and barriers for the use of specialized vehicle markets as introductory markets and “launching pads” for alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles including the following: 1. A comprehensive identification and characterization of vehicle market segments that are being considered as first applications for alternative fuels, advanced conventional fuels, and advanced vehicle technologies. This should include the number and type of vehicle sales; quantity of fuel consumed; costs; the type and level of subsidy; suitability of vehicle and fuel characteristics to specialized market; and distinction between light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications. 2. An assessment of manufacturer willingness to develop, manufacture, sell, and service various alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies to a niche market over an extended period of time. What factors change the willingness to sustain presence in the niche market? 3. As assessment of fuel provider willingness to establish and maintain a fuel infrastructure and produce, distribute, and sell various fuels to these markets. What factors change the willingness to sustain presence in their market? 4. The capacity of specialized markets to absorb one or more new fuels and vehicle technologies simultaneously on a sustainable basis. What factors change the capacity of fleets or consumers in these markets to create sustainable demand? How does competition within these markets affect this capacity? 5. An assessment of the potential for various specialized markets to serve as launching pads for the broader use of alternative fuels and vehicle technologies. What are the factors that increase this potential? Are some fuels and technologies suitable only for these markets? 6. The energy and environmental impacts of sustainable specialty markets taken alone or collectively, and under various scenarios where niche markets serve as a critical launching pad for fuels and vehicles to enter the mass market. 7. A summary of the conclusions about the characteristics of these successful markets should be prepared on how to distinguish between self-sustaining supply and demand, and various and presumably higher levels of supply and demand that could be sustainable because of government policy, correction of market failures, or consumer attitudes.

Suggested By

ADC80, Alternative Transportation Fuels Committee, as specified in the TRB Research Needs Database, 2009.