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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 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.
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.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-profit group sponsored by foundations, electric utilities and government agencies, released its list of the Greenest Vehicles, and the Honda Civic GX, a perennial favorite, continued to come out on top for the 8th consecutive year.
In second place was the all-electric Nissan Leaf, while the much maligned Smart ForTwo came third. The Chevrolet Volt was way down the list at number 13. While this is surprising at first glance, the Council takes other factors into account beyond the usual tailpipe emissions and fuel economy. How the electricity is generated, for example, is taken into consideration since coal-fired energy is substantially dirtier than hydroelectric power.
“We consider not just what emissions are coming out of the tailpipe while the vehicle is running,” said Therese Langer, the group’s transportation director, in an interview with the New York Times. “The E.P.A. would consider the Leaf a zero-emissions vehicle because electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions,” she said. Disposal of the lithium ion batteries is also taken into account due to its toxic nature.
[Source: The New York Times]
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