Hybrids and Plug-Ins. Today’s hybrids offer seamless integration of two drivetrains, controlled by sophisticated computer controls. The transition from electric to gas mode is barely detectable, and the “auto-off” feature (which shuts down the engine at stop lights) is a miracle of modern engineering. No driver today would have trouble with vehicles like the Toyota Prius or Honda Accord Hybrid.
Natural gas. With the natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX sedan, I discovered that the issue isn’t the driving (which is virtually indistinguishable from a standard Civic) but the availability of natural gas. I’m lucky enough to have two pumps near my home, one at a home heating supplier and the other in the town public works garage. Since the GX carries the equivalent of eight gallons of fuel (pressurized at 3,600 pounds), it runs through a tankful in 200 miles. I made it to the fuel depot on fumes, and then was frustrated by the a non-engaging nozzle. On a pressurized system, this is a deal breaker. Luckily, the town connection worked, or I’d have gone home at the end of a tow rope. Natural gas is still not available widely.