Alternative fuel station locator available for mobile phones

A common complaint about alternative-fuel vehicles is that it's difficult to find a station to refuel one. Compared to gasoline, there are relatively few stations that sell E85 ethanol, compressed natural gas, or hydrogen to consumers. And while electric-car charging stations are expanding rapidly, they are still a rare sight on American roads today.

The U.S. Department of Energy is aiming to change that with a new mobile website to help drivers of all types of alternative-fuel vehicles find places to refuel. The website is available on all types of mobile phones, including Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Palm. (Access the mobile webpage, learn more about it.)

From that mobile site, you can chose from seven different alternative fuels: biodiesel, natural gas, electricity, E85 ethanol, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, and propane. Once you enter your ZIP code, the page launches Google Maps and plots the nearest stations, along with their names, distance from your ZIP code, addresses, whether they are public or private, and a link to driving directions.

While it won't make the stations any more plentiful, the handy mobile webpage will help reduce the anxiety of drivers wondering how far they are from the nearest refueling station.

For non-mobile users, there is an alternative fueling station locator available on a standard webpage, as well.

It is worth checking either resource before committing to buying an alternative-fuel vehicle, as good intentions can be hampered by fuel availability.

- Eric Evarts

Click here to view the story on ConsumerReports.org.

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