Car companies are looking at a variety of ways to get more miles out of a gallon, a bushel or a volt.
Chevrolet Volt
Series hybrid
Chevrolet Volt
The Volt, a concept car unveiled at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, is similar in its basic configuration to the HySeries Ford Edge.

Both vehicles use "series hybrid" systems. That means that the wheels are powered, at all times, by an electric motor only.

In the Volt's case, a small gasoline engine can charge the car's batteries as needed. As with the HySeries Ford, the batteries can also be charged by plugging into a wall outlet for a few hours. The HySeries Ford Edge uses a hydrogen fuel cell instead of a gasoline engine, but both Ford and GM say that either vehicle could use either type of power source.

One major advantage of a series hybrid is that it allows that sort of flexibility. Since the powerplant isn't hooked up to the wheels in any way, it's much easier to change from one radically different engine type to another.

Another advantage, in the event that a gasoline or diesel engine is used, is that the engine can operate at its most efficient speed at all times, never needing to run faster or slower as the car's speed changes.

The challenge with a system like this is that it takes a lot of energy to drive a vehicle at high speeds while delivering the kind of performance drivers expect. It won't be enough for the Volt to just get to 65 miles per hour. It has to get there and still be able to accelerate if the driver needs to.

That means the Volt or HySeries will need really powerful batteries. GM says it is working with battery companies to create something that's up the task.


Flex-fuel

Clean diesel

Natural gas

Parallel hybrid

Two-mode hybrid

Hydrogen-
burning

Plug-in hybrid

Series hybrid

Fuel cell

Plug-in fuel cell

Turbine
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.