Alternative fuel not so new

A 1938 Citroen powered by coal

According to the Petersen Automotive Museum, in 1900:

  • 40% of all automobiles were powered by steam
  • 38% of all automobiles were powered by electricity
  • 22% of all automobiles were powered by gasoline


    A 1938 Citroen powered by coal. (Petersen Automotive Museum)


    Los Angeles Times auto critic Dan Neil checks out the bag of coal in the back of the 1938 Citroen powered by it. (Brett Neely)


    A 1917 Woods Dual-Power, an early gas hybrid car using a technology in some ways similar to the current Honda Civic hybrids. (Petersen Automotive Museum)


    A 1917 Woods Dual-Power, an early gas hybrid car using a technology in some ways similar to the current Honda Civic hybrids. (Brett Neely)

    GM's EV1, a mass-produced electric vehicle. The program was discontinued in 2002 and almost all of them were destroyed. (Brett Neely)

  • About the author

    Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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