There’s little question that the fuel we use to power our personal transportation is about to change in a big way. But there’s a wave you don’t hear much about in conventional media. The public’s seemingly overwhelming fascination with electric vehicles is being fed by the machine, to the detriment of other technologies that can bring more immediate benefits.

There was a current that ran through the halls at the huge SEMA automotive aftermarket show in Las Vegas earlier this month, where an electric powered ’33 Ford hot rod was one of the stars of the show. (When you factor in the slew of Automotive X-Prize contestants populating the Making Green Cool Zone, electric cars made quite an impressive showing.)

Electric cars are not the be all, end all. Energy storage is the most immediate problem. The batteries are just too expensive at present to manufacture an electric car that is affordable for the majority of the population. As lithium battery production ramps up, prices will fall.

The immediate path to domestic energy independence includes a reliance on a full range of alternative fuel cars. There were three outstanding vehicles at SEMA that provide a glimpse of how this nation will achieve that goal: