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 |  Dec 29 2011, 9:45 PM

It’s sales are but a drop in the bucket for Honda, but the Civic GX, recently renamed the NG, might have a chance to grow its market share thanks to efforts by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to expand U.S. infrastructure for natural gas vehicles.

The fact is, there is so much natural gas available in the U.S. that it’s actually being sold off as an export. Part of the reason is because currently Americans account for 112,000 or less than 1 percent of the world total of natural gas burning vehicles. Most of those are 18-wheel big rigs or fleet vehicles, but the Civic GX accounts for 13,000 since appearing on the American market 13 years ago.

It isn’t hard to understand why there are so few sold: of the roughly 180,000 gas stations across the U.S., there are roughly 1000 that offer natural gas. That means no road trips, no fooling around with the refuel light and little forgiveness if you happen to run the tank dry.

Despite all that, the compressed natural gas (CNG) Civic won the 2012 Green Car of the Year Award, beating out a host of cars including the Mitsubishi i, Ford Focus Electric and Prius V. It also snagged a guaranteed spot until 2015 in California’s coveted HOV lane sticker club, meaning owners may drive solo and skip through ridiculous Californian highway congestion – something that’s sure to make it a popular choice in SoCal.

The Honda won these accolades despite having comparatively poor milage with 27-mpg city, 38-mpg highway and a 31-mpg average, probably because it costs about 30 percent less to fuel them according to Honda. Natural gas costs about $1 to $2 less per gallon-equivalent.

Truthfully, the Civic has nothing to do with Clean Energy Fuels Corp.’s plans for expansion. They’re more more motivated by the crazy fuel volume transport vehicles consumer every year. Rich Kolodziej, president of the trade association NGV America, broke the numbers down in an interview with the Detroit News. If a driver gets an average of 25 mpg and drives 12,000 miles a year, that driver needs about 480 gallons per year. An average truck driver can travel 120,000 miles in a year getting only six miles-per-gallon needs 20,000 gallons of fuel, or as much as almost 42 normal drivers.

Given that there is a surplus of natural gas in the U.S. and that it’s significantly cheaper, installing that infrastructure makes sense. The special few who drive the Civic GX or NG will likely enjoy the benefit of having access to many more fueling  stations.

[Source: Detroit News]

 |  Nov 17 2011, 12:59 PM

The 2011 Green Car of the Year award isn’t going to an electric car or a hybrid. The winner is the Honda Civic GX, a car that has an internal combustion engine, but that doesn’t burn any gasoline at all. That’s because it’s powered by natural gas.

The Civic beat out the Ford Focus Electric, the Mitsubishi i, the Toyota Prius v and the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI.

The car is rated at 27-mpg city, 38-mpg highway and a 31-mpg average. Honda claims the cost to operate the car is roughly 30 percent less than a conventional gasoline engine.

While fueling stations for such cars are rare, they’re likely to become much more popular – especially in Southern California. The reason is that the Civic GX is allowed to operate in the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes – something the Prius is no longer able to boast.

Along with staff from the Green Car Journal, this year’s judging panel for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award included Carl Pope, Sierra Club chairman; Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council president; as well as Jay Leno and Carroll Shelby.

The winner of the 2011 Green Car of the Year award was the Chevrolet Volt.

 |  Oct 24 2011, 7:56 AM

Recognized each year at the LA Auto Show, the finalists for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award have been released, spanning the gamut of possible alternative fuel vehicles. The nominee include the Ford Focus Electric, the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, the Mitsubishi i, the Toyota Prius v and the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI.

While fully electric models like the Fusion Electric and Mitsubishi i are obvious choices, the list goes on to include the Prius v hybrid, the Passat TDI diesel and even the natural gas powered Civic.

“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists underscore that there is no single solution to our transportation challenges,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of GreenCar.com. “Here we have five exceptional answers to the question of how we’re going to increase efficiencies, reduce tailpipe and CO2 emissions, and decrease petroleum use. These nominees deserve to be recognized for their unique approaches in providing consumers diverse choices as cars intelligently evolve toward a more environmentally-compatible motoring future.”

Along with staff from the Green Car Journal, this year’s judging panel for the 2012 Green Car of the Year award includes Carl Pope, Sierra Club chairman; Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council president; as well as Jay Leno and Carroll Shelby.

Last year the Chevrolet Volt took home the 2011 Green Car of the Year award.

Click here to see AutoGuide’s complete 2011 LA Auto Show preview