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Public opinion surveys from December 2000, August 2004, February 2007 and March 2009 posed this question:

Consider a future date when gasoline is no longer available. Which of the following do you think would be the best fuel for use in personal vehicles: electricity, ethanol, or hydrogen?

A comparison of the answers from the three different years shows a change in the public's view of future fuels. In the 2000, 2004, and 2009 surveys, electricity was chosen more often than any other fuel type. However, in 2007, ethanol was chosen by more than one-third of the respondents.

Best Fuel to Replace Gasoline When Gasoline is No Longer Available
Graph showing the results from a public opinion survey taken in 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2009 when respondents were asked what would be the best fuel to replace gasoline when gasoline is no longer available. The choices were electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, and don't know. For more detailed information, see the table below.

The respondents were also given the same choices and asked which would be the worst fuel for use in personal vehicles when gasoline is no longer available. In 2009, ethanol was chosen by 44% of survey respondents as being the worst fuel to replace gasoline. In the earlier three survey years, a growing share of respondents chose electricity as the worst fuel, but that reversed with the 2009 survey. The share of respondents who responded "don't know" (or were unwilling to make a choice) declined to 14% in 2009.

Worst Fuel to Replace Gasoline When Gasoline is No Longer Available
Graph showing the results from a public opinion survey taken in 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2009 when respondents were asked what would be the worst fuel to replace gasoline when gasoline is no longer available. The choices were electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, and don't know. For more detailed information, see the table below.

Supporting Information

Best and Worst Replacement Fuels
Fuel Best Fuel to Replace Gasoline Worst Fuel to Replace Gasoline
2000 2004 2007 2009 2000 2004 2007 2009
Electricity 52% 41% 32% 42% 15% 21% 26% 21%
Ethanol 21% 19% 36% 21% 28% 28% 29% 44%
Hydrogen 15% 28% 25% 28% 27% 23% 24% 21%
Don't know 12% 13% 7% 9% 30% 29% 20% 14%

Source: Opinion Research Corporation for National Renewable Energy Laboratory, December 1, 2000 (N = 1,000), August 27, 2004 (N = 1,041), February 8, 2007 (N=1022), and March 2009 (N=1,000).

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