Straight from its manufacturing and assembly plant southwest of Indianapolis, Indiana in the U.S., Honda is stocking dealers with a 2012 version of its Civic fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). It officially goes on sale Tuesday, Oct. 18 in some or all of the 36 states listed below, representing a major expansion of Honda’s strategy to grow its share of the rapidly growing, non gasoline-only, U.S. car market.
States set to start selling the Honda “Civic Natural Gas” (formerly the “Civic GX”) in alphabetical order are: Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state and Wisconsin.
Honda’s expansion comes amid roll-outs of the all- electric (EV) Nissan Leaf, the hybrid Chevy Volt and the 3rd generation Prius hybrid. The attention being paid to the growing supply of “shale” natural gas boom in the U.S. and the relatively low price at the wellhead of natural gas overall is buoyed by the fact that natural gas emits 25 percent less CO2 emissions than gasoline when used to power an internal combustion engine.
Because comparing natural gas and electric vehicles to gasoline-powered engines on a miles-per-gallon basis can be confusing, many drivers of non-gasoline vehicles recommend focusing on cost per mile traveled. With gasoline selling north of $3.20 per gallon throughout much of the U.S., the economics of these vehicles is a compelling pocketbook advantage if you’re in the market to purchase a car.
Pre-qualified Honda dealerships are to starting selling the new-design “Civic Natural Gas” for a $26,155. Some dealers who were not in the company’s initial roll out plan may not receive their shipments until December, according to Tim Spell, the auto writer at the Houston Chronicle. The four states heading the distribution list are California, New York, Utah and Oklahoma. The Civic Natural Gas is the only OEM-built, CNG-powered passenger car produced in America, according to American Honda Motor Co.
The Civic Natural Gas is recognized by the state of California as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) by meeting SULEV (super low-emission vehicle) emissions standards and warranting its emissions durability for at least 150,000 miles or 15 year (in California and those states that have adopted California’s ZEV regulations). The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) named the 2011 natural gas-powered Civic “America’s Greenest Vehicle” for the eighth time in its Green Book® ranking of environmentally responsible vehicles. See accompanying table.
U.S. policymakers are beginning to hear and read more about the benefits of natural gas as a transportation fuel from the “Drive Natural Gas” initiative by the American Gas Association and America’s Natural Gas Alliance. Headed by Kathryn Clay, Ph.D., the initiative has the potential to educate federal and state elected officials of virtually all political stripes to boost the approval and construction of CNG fueling stations.
Here is a list maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy of CNG fueling stations throughout the U.S.
Photo by Honda.