First of all, turbines can’t quite run on “anything”; while they can accept a remarkable number of different fuels, from heavy diesels to lightweight petroleum distillates–some can even run alcohols–they’ll get significantly different performance based upon what they’re optimally designed to do.
Other issues with turbines include:
[li]the high tolerance of manufacturing required by such an extremely high speed mechanism,[/li][li]the complexity of the fuel injection system; instead of 8, 12, or 16 ports, you have dozens or hundreds in an intricate manifold all around the stator,[/li][li]the mantainance requirements of said mechanism; should a bearing wear, you’re going to throw a turbine or connective link quickly,[/li][li]the noise–turbines produce high pitched whines that are difficult to baffle out,[/li][li]the transmission/powertrain system; a turbine operates efficiently at a very narrow range of operating speeds, so you have to have a CVT or an electric hybrid type of powertrain,[/li][li]the inertia of the American automobile establishment; American automakers have traditionally been slow to adopt even minor improvements for fear of risking present sales.[/li][/ul]
This isn’t to say turbine-driven cars–particularly hybrid-eletric type setups where the turbine strictly powers the electric wheel motors and charges the storage system–aren’t a worthwhile area to develop; while in school I had one class project where conceptually developed a methanol-powered hybrid electric turbine. The problem was, were it to be built, it would have taken up the back of a pickup truck for the necessary size of the engine and storage battery. Battery technology has become smaller in recent years (thanks to, in part, eletric vehicle research) and the turbine size could be reduced, but still, it’s not a technology ready for launch on the consumer market. Those familiar with the history of turbochargers (which are a miniature turbines that help boost the compression of an engine at times of peak load) can appreciate the difficulty in building a significantly larger turbine at a commodity price point.
Frankly, the car companies don’t give a rat’s ass what you burn in your car; if they thought they could manufacture and sell a car that runs off of unwanted babies, they’d build it. But car companies–particularly the Americans–are extremely risk-adverse, and with good reason; most consumers are not early adopters, and with bulk car sales there are significant breakpoints in manufacturing cost per volume; if you only project selling 5000/year of a unit then you probably can’t make a profit at $25K, even for a bare bones vehicle. If you can count on selling 10,000 or 20,000, then you can justify investing in the tooling and vendor support, but then, you don’t want to risk alienating the public by an unacceptable design and have all that inventory on hand, so you go with what you know.
The problem isn’t the car companies; they just want to make a profit. The problem is the market; creating a new market segment is difficult and risky, and for companies that aren’t especially profitable or well-managed anyway, it’s too big of a risk without a sizable inducement in the form of government tax credits or regulatory authority. No conspiracy required.