I think it's possible to have multiple standards, though. You won't have every gas station on every corner supporting every format. As it stands, you can get gas, diesel, kerosene (which is basically diesel anyway), and propane (not in a format usable for cars, but they could) at many gas stations. Sure, there will be some, but there would be lots of small independent places that support only one or two standards -- consider how you can buy biodiesel now. Sometimes it's a place like a gas station, but often it's some other energy company, like a home heating oil company. You'd have similar stuff happening for other fuels.
If there is going to be one standard, it will almost certainly be some kind of liquid fueled internal combustion; nothing else delivers the same versatility and convenience. That soccer mom, the small business owner, emergency responders, delivery drivers, joyriding kids, on-site technicians/health care, and so many other road users won't find other options viable.
Unlike with dinosaur juice, that fuel probably won't be the energy source -- we're looking at biodiesel, ethanol, or something similar. The fuel becomes separate from the energy source and any energy source can be used to make the fuel.
I think that any new technologies will have to be adopted by commuters first. Commuters can deal with limited range, long time spent refilling, etc. That's how you can leapfrog the infrastructure issue, since commuters don't need a gas station at every corner, just one they can go to every time. Whatever the fuel, as long as I can get it at home or a known spot near my commute, I'm fine.
Or, maybe Gary's in-wheel hydraulic hybrid setup will stretch dinosaur juice enough that we don't need another fuel. I can hope, right?
Is it funny that the song "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds just came on?
there are many of us waiting and watching gary's project. he once mentioned a retro-fit for take off assist. that really peaked my interest.
funny how you talk about the local gas stations having maybe one or two sources. the gas station down the road from me sells propane but not in the pre-filled BBQ tanks but by the pound (I think) it was a lot cheaper for me to fill up my grill tank that way. if I had a car that would run off of that. I have no idea the efficiency I would get and it wasn't that cheap.
hopefully more options will come. I personally think that the answer will be some sort of hybrid where you always have the gas engine backup because a gallon of gas has quite a bit of energy in it and it can easily and safely (relatively speaking) be taken prety much anywhere.
Be the change you wish to see in the world
Maybe one from BYD of China if they have export capacity. I fear that the Chinese will be first in line to grab them since the Middle Kingdom's environmental and safety regs are quite lenient.
BYD makes cell phone batteries and is moving into the auto battery market with plans to surround their batteries with an auto. It might be the first iCar.
And maybe advanced materials will finally make serious inroads into the car business. I cannot believe the average car now weighs 3000 lbs! Sure, cars are larger and equipped with more power equipment than the distant past but c'mon, can't auto companies build lighter vehicles at a reasonable cost?
On a side note. I receive an auto engineering mag at work. The newest design in tires is..........wait for it...........tread that adapts to the road you're driving on by morphing into different treads for dry, wet and snowy conditions. And you thought run flat tires were the coolest, huh? I have not read the article enough times yet to fully understand how these tires work but, with the right choice of materials for the tread, the tires could last for 100K or more miles! Fixed tread tires might soon join the bias ply on history's scrap heap.