The automotive industry is one of the largest industrial sectors by revenue with activities that encompass the engineering, design, technological development, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales and maintenance of automobiles or motor vehicles. Automobiles or cars can be categorized by fuel including gasoline, diesel, electric, and various hybrid or alternative fuel cars such as ethanol and combined electrical motor-heat engine drives.
Electric cars, also known as electric vehicles (EVs) have been touted recently for their advantages to conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles such as zero air pollution, reduced emissions, and significantly lower energy costs (on a fuel to electricity basis). Electric cars are more expensive than traditional automotive vehicles, however, due to the added cost of a high-capacity battery. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) combine the traditional ICE with an electric propulsion system, and this electric powertrain gives HEVs better fuel economy than conventional vehicles. Other green vehicles, using alternative fuels like ethanol (flex fuel cars) and compressed natural gas (CNG), are gaining popularity in commercial and consumer automotive markets.
In 2009, China surpassed the United States as the largest national automotive market, with Japan as the third-largest. China also possesses the largest automotive manufacturing industry in terms of production volume. Automotive industries include car or vehicle manufacturers, component and automotive part manufacturers, re-sellers, and after-market services and parts. The current global automotive markets and industries are characterized by slowly diversifying demand for automobiles by fuel type and by world region, with growing demand from highly-populated developing countries.