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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Mazda has just unveiled a host of new concepts and up-coming models at the The 43rd Tokyo Motor Show 2013 that includes diesel, natural gas and hybrid technology.
Answering a question nobody was asking, General Motors announced today that it will sell a version of the 10th generation Impala capable of running on gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG).
Ford recently announced the EPA fuel efficiency rating for its electric Focus model. Since it doesn’t burn any gasoline, the number isn’t in miles per gallon (MPG), but was given as miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, or MPGe. A new term to the automotive lexicon, it’s worth exploring exactly what MPGe means and how an MPGe rating is determined, especially as the number of electric cars and plug-in electric hybrids on the roads continues to increase.
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]
In its annual Outlook, ExxonMobil discusses the future of global energy demands and consumption and in this year’s edition, ExxonMobil believes that half of the vehicles on the road in 2040 will be hybrids.
We personally believe hybrids will rule the road long before 2040, especially when you have vehicles like Lincoln‘s 2012 MKZ Hybrid being sold for the same price as its gas-only variant.
Currently hybrid vehicles only make up one-percent of total vehicle sales, but with government fuel economy standards on the rise, more and more manufacturers are developing electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles in order to meet the new standards. ExxonMobil is also predicting that electric vehicles will sport an inflation of $12,000 or so compared to its gas-only counterpart now and in the immediate future.
But we would argue against that, considering how quickly technology has already advanced with electric vehicles and the parts that are being used to build them. Electric vehicles right now carry about a $12,000 inflation compared to a conventional version, so we find it hard to believe that manufacturers won’t find a way to cut costs within the next five years, never mind 30.
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.
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.
The world’s economy stinks, gas is expensive and we’re all watching our wallets closely.
You might assume that would also indicate less car parts being sold, but not for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins. “Several of the economies where Cummins operates are clearly weakening,” COO Tom Linebarger told analysts last month. “We really don’t know how deep it will go. We are confident in the long-term profitable growth of the company.”
The Columbus, Ind. based manufacturer builds natural gas and diesel engines and despite the worlds money woes is projecting a sharp rise in diesel fuel demand. Last month Cummins told analysts they forecast to grow by more than 60 per cent and reach $30 billion in 2015.
Over the next five years the company also plans to hire 7000 new engineers to compensate for increased demand. They hope doing so will allow them to develop new engines to meet increasingly stringent efficiency standards.
They owe their expansion in large part to overseas demand in emerging economies like China and South America and India where there is still high demand for construction equipment, but it isn’t the only reason.
The company is also expanding its production for consumer vehicles. Nissan is currently working on putting a 2.8-liter direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder from Cummins into its 2015 Titan pickup. Once available, the new generation Titan will be one of the most efficient full-size pickups on the market.
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.
An expected announcement today by President Barack Obama will outline the federal government’s commitment to buy only advanced technology vehicles by 2015.
Only hybrids, plug-in electrics, and flex-fuel vehicles will be allowed into its present fleet of 600,000 vehicles. The government has already doubled its number of hybrids in keeping with existing mandates.
Full-size SUVs and other vehicles could still be allowed, but they would need to run on E85 ethanol.
Also expected from Obama’s Georgetown University speech today will be a strategy to cut oil imports by one third by 2025, while calling for a substantial increase in fuel economy for vehicles produced from 2017-2025.
The reduction could save the U.S. more than 11 million barrels per day, the White House said, which is the amount the U.S. imported in 2008.
Obama will also ask Congress to increase incentives to assist compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles for consumers, corporate and business fleets.
Today’s announcement will be just one of a long line of transportation energy measures tightening the belt in the face of ever diminishing oil supplies.
Last summer the White House supported a bill that would have approved $4 billion in assistance for CNG vehicles. That bill stalled in the last Congress, but did have some support from Republicans and Democrats.
In October 2009, the president directed federal agencies with 20 or more vehicles to cut fuel usage by 2 percent.
In 2010 the government bought 23,000 fuel-efficient vehicles, of which 9,000 were hybrids. This year the government will buy its first 100 battery electric vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Volt, shown above.
Concerned also with greenhouse gas emissions, a $300 million stimulus bill was approved by Congress in 2009. The White House also intends to finalize the first national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses.
These are planned to take effect in the 2014 model year and will cover the 2014-18 model years.
[Source: Detroit News]
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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Honda‘s previous Civic launches have seen the base models get the star-treatment right out of the gate, with performance and eco variants following later on. But this time will be different, as Honda plans to launch the regular Civic, Civic Si, Civic Hybrid and a natural gas powered Civic within weeks of each other.
The rapid launch is part of Honda’s marketing campaign based on Soichiro Honda’s phrase that there is “a Civic for everyone”. The new Civic’s introduction will be critical for Honda, as the Civic’s bread and butter car has had an exceptionally long product cycle, due to a sudden alteration of the Civic’s design after the start of the financial crisis in 2008.
For more news, discussions, pricing and pictures on the 2012 Honda Civic, please visit http://www.9thgencivic.com/
A month ago we put the spotlight on VW’s Scirocco GT24 CNG Race Cars, announcing that they’ll be competing at the Nurburgring 24-hour race in the class for cars with alternative power. The race has come and gone and VW has made a solid statement with the sweep of the podium with a 1-2-3 finish.
Sadly this continues our saga of wishing that the VW Scirocco will make its way to North America. These 330-hp GT24-CNG race cars omit 80-percent less CO2 while maintaining 100% of its reliability, as shown in its 24-hour outing at Nurburgring. The 2.0L turbocharged engine also contributed in setting the fastest lap time by a FWD vehicle with 9m 04.710s.
Car #117 placed first in the alternative power class piloted by Ickx, Al-Attiyah, Depping and Niedzwicz. Car #118 finished second and car #116 finished third.
We have to admit, the VW Scirocco already looked great every time we spot it on the Web or outside North America. We can only wish that more attention is paid to the car in bringing it over to North America. These results also prove that alternative power is becoming a formidable force out on the track.
[Source: German Car Scene]