Leading contenders in the search for a superior alternative powerplant for light-duty automotive use include the steam and Stirling engines, the gas turbine, and the diesel. In this paper the status of each of those alternative engines is reviewed and i its prognosis considered. The steam engine is unsuitable because of poor fuel economy. Obstacles blocking acceptance of the Stirling and gas turbine engines are sufficient so that even if they are surmountable, significant-use in light-duty vehicles is unlikely before the 1990s. The light-duty diesel is here today but faces some difficult regulatory hurdles in the near future.