WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Automakers kicked off National Alternative Fuel Autos Week by announcing that there are 10.5 million alternative-fuel autos on the nation's roads today, according to 2006 sales data from R.L. Polk and Co. The Polk sales figures also reveal that an unprecedented 1.5 million alternative-fuel autos were sold in 2006, surpassing automakers' sales expectations by 50 percent. Currently manufacturers are offering 60 models of alternative-fuel automobiles for sale including hybrid electric, ethanol- capable E-85, and clean diesel, up from just 12 models for sale in 2000. "There are 10.5 million alternative-fuel autos on the roads and highways of every state across the country. We are happy to see that consumers are, in fact, discovering the alternatives that are available to them on dealership lots nationwide," said Dave McCurdy, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "We believe that the numbers of alternative-fuel autos on the roads continue to rise because consumers can choose from a variety of autos that reduce fuel use while still providing the utility, safety, performance and comfort they seek." In addition to the 60 alternative fuel autos currently being offered, auto engineers are working to include a diverse range of highly fuel-efficient technologies in new vehicles. Today, every model for sale is available with some kind of fuel-efficient technology, such as fuel injectors, four-cylinder engines, variable valve timing, continuously variable transmissions, cylinder deactivation and more, the Alliance said. Automakers are also working with the energy industry to develop a range of alternative fuels capable of sustaining mobility while ensuring more secure energy sources. Alliance members have forged more than 25 partnerships, joint ventures or research and development projects with energy producers to expand the fueling infrastructure for fuels such as ethanol, biomass and hydrogen. Automakers are also working with the government, fuel providers and fuel retailers to help grow the E-85 ethanol fueling infrastructure. Since mid-2005, the industry has helped add 200 fueling stations in 13 states. McCurdy added: "Having exceeded our sales expectations in 2006, we hope that 2007 will be another banner year for sales of alternative-fuel autos. This year marks the first-ever National Alternative Fuel Autos Week and automakers hope to draw more attention to the availability of these autos currently for sale." The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of nine car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials