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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]
Honda, which is currently the only manufacturer in the United States selling a dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle, might see a significant spike in demand for the Civic GX model. The reason? Honda has announced that the Civic Natural Gas will qualify for the White Clean Air Vehicle decals in California, which will allow access to the HOV lane through January 2015. Those who had Yellow Clean Air Vehicle decals (including the ever-popular Prius) had them expire earlier this month on July 1st, 2011.
The HOV decals have been influential towards the purchases of more fuel-efficient vehicles in California, with solo driver access to the HOV lane. With traffic as bad as it is in Southern California, used cars with yellow decals were even sold at a premium. Now Honda’s Civic GX will retain that luxury all the way through 2015.
Honda’s 2012 Civic CNG has a fuel economy rating of 27/38/31 for city, highway and combined respectively. The CNG includes Honda’s ECO Assist technology and Honda claims owning a CNG is about 30-percent less in cost than a traditional gasoline cost.
Honda has also announced that sales for the CNG have tripled for the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.
Honda currently sells a natural-gas Civic in four states: California, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. But for the millions of Americans that live elsewhere, take heart—by fall of this year, you’ll be able to fuel your Civic with CNG.
The Civic GX has racked up awards for its environmental credentials, including top honors from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy for the eighth year in a row. Currently, the Civic GX is available across the country to fleet sales only, but with heightened environmental interest, Honda will push the gassy Civic to all of its dealers.
And when the Civic GX does arrive, expect the number of times you’ll see the phrase “feelin’ gassy” to increase trifold.