Carmakers and consumers alike are faced with several different options for alternative fuel motoring with petrol, diesel and now biodiesel, compressed natural gas and ethanol increasing in popularity, but at this stage it’s still anyone’s guess as to what will be the dominant fuel source of the future. Asked the experts and they’ll tell you petrol isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

Speaking at this week’s SAE World Congress in Detroit, a panel of experts said gasoline will continue to dominate until the industry begins mass production of fuel cells and other electrically powered vehicles.

Joseph Kaufman, manager of fuels and vehicle trends at petroleum producer ConocoPhillips told Automotive News that petroleum-based fuels, as well as liquid biofuels that can be blended into them, will continue to carry most of the energy load in most countries for the next few decades. Internal combustion engines will continue to dominate, he said, even as they become more sophisticated.

Ethanol has been widely touted as a good replacement for petrol but there are fears the generation of the fuel uses more energy than what’s given off. The panelists disputed this belief but said there remained issues such as ethanol's effect on land use and the availability of food crops cannot be ignored.

The U.S. government has set goals to increase ethanol production and a number of carmakers such as GM have entered partnerships with biofuel production firms to help further the rollout of the ethanol fuelling stations. Though it looks like petrol will continue to dominate, its market share is likely to decrease substantially in the near term.