The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, is hosting an exhibit showcasing the automotive industry’s progress in its work with alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles. “Alternative Power: Propulsion after Petroleum” recalls the history and methods of automotive power from 1866 to the present day.

Included in the exhibit are early-model vehicles powered by steam, electricity, and coal gas, a fuel created by partially burning wood or coal to produce a gaseous substance. In addition, the history of the diesel engine is traced, and on hand at the museum is a 1917 Woods Dual Power, an automobile that coupled a gasoline engine with an electric motor-generator, much like modern-day hybrids.

Also in the exhibit are turbine vehicles, which operate on jet engines fueled by gasoline, diesel, or kerosene. The Chrysler Turbine is an example of such a vehicle. In 1963, DaimlerChrysler manufactured approximately fifty of them, which the company then loaned to selected families for trial real-world use. One of these cars is included in the display.

The 1963 Chrysler Turbine is one of many cars on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum's exhibit

The 1963 Chrysler Turbine is one of many cars on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum’s exhibit. Credit: DaimlerChrysler

Hydrogen-powered automobiles are also featured, including the Electrovan, the world’s first fuel-cell powered vehicle, which was introduced in 1966 by General Motors (GM). The Electrovan’s propulsion system used no batteries or petroleum, but instead ran on electric power developed by cryogenically stored hydrogen and oxygen combined with potassium hydroxide. GM also loaned the museum its AUTOnomy fuel cell concept car, which combines fuel cell technology with a by-wire control system.

GM's Electrovan illustrates the past of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The AUTOnomy concept car illustrates what the future of hydrogen-powered vehicles might look like.

GM’s Electrovan (above) and AUTOnomy concept car (below) illustrate the past and future of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Credit: Wieck Media,

In addition, the exhibit, which runs until September 10, 2006, highlights vehicles powered by biodiesel, compressed natural gas, propane/liquefied petroleum gas, and ethanol.

“Experimentation and discovery of new technologies is what really drives the auto industry, and a walk through this exhibit is an entertaining trip from the past into our future beyond petroleum,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Director Dick Messer.

Share this: