Alternative Fuels:

Experiences of Brazil, Canada, and New Zealand in Using Alternative Motor Fuels

RCED-92-119: Published: May 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) Brazil's, Canada's, and New Zealand's experiences in implementing alternative fuel programs; and (2) the perspectives of consumers in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Canada, who converted vehicles to use compressed natural gas.

GAO found that: (1) in all three programs, the government was the catalyst for encouraging industry to substitute alternative motor fuels for imported oil and encouraging consumers to use them; (2) each government took steps to provide such incentives to consumers as favorable prices for alternative fuels and assistance in purchasing or converting vehicles; (3) the fuel industry in Canada and New Zealand were provided grants, loans, and tax breaks to help defray the installation costs of refueling facilities for alternative fuels; (4) experiences with alternative fuels in Brazil, Canada, and New Zealand showed that once involved, government needed to demonstrate continuing, consistent commitment to alternative fuels; (5) government and industry officials within the three governments pointed out that planning and cooperation with industry and other levels of government can improve program implementation and operation; (6) in each country, fuel, automotive, and utility industries were reluctant to invest in developing, producing, and marketing alternative fuels and vehicles without some assurance of consumer demand and profit potential; (7) the most significant obstacles fuel and automative industries faced, once they decided the market had potential, were developing a fueling infrastructure, ensuring the quality of alternative-fueled vehicles, meeting price and performance competition from gasoline products, and responding to regulatory disincentives; and (8) that favorable fuel and vehicle prices, fuel availability, and vehicle performance were major considerations in consumers' decisions to use alternative fuels and vehicles.

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