By on May 7, 2011

When the new Honda Civic GX will be available in the U.S., it will come with an option that allows you to bypass all gas stations and to fuel at home. No, it won’t be electric. It will be powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).

Honda had released a CNG powered Civic GX in California in 1998 and currently offers the car in four states. With the new model, the roll-out will be nationwide. According to The Nikkei [sub], “the decision to go nationwide reflects the heightened interest in environmental cars in the U.S. Natural-gas-propelled cars are seen by some as even greener than all-electric vehicles, because the latter charge their batteries using electricity often generated by fossil-fuel-fired power plants.”

According to Energy Digital, top car manufacturers such as GM and Chrysler are taking CNG powered cars as a serious alternative: “Natural gas cars are far cheaper to produce than lithium-ion powered electric vehicles. For example, the Honda Civic GX CNG will run on compressed natural gas and cost just $25,490 compared to the all-electric Chevy Volt, which will cost $41,000, or the $32,000 Nissan Leaf (both considered the most affordable of commercial electric cars).” If gas reaches your home for cooking or heating, a home fueling station can be put in your garage.

The Civic Natural Gas engine produces almost zero smog-forming emissions and is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle certified by the EPA. The car qualifies for a state-issued decal allowing single-occupant access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) “carpool” lanes in California and several other states.

 

 

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30 Comments on “Official: CNG Powered Civic To Be Rolled-Out Nationwide...”


  • avatar

    Who’s Dan Moore, and why am I logged in as him?

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      This has happened to me as well – logged in with another name – it should be carefully looked into.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        It’s happened to many of us. Last night, I was a Facebook user unable to comment without knowing my Facebook name and password. I don’t even use Facebook….

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        This has happened to me a few times. I suspect the names logged in work for TTAC’s parent company in IT and forgot to log off somehow. Just log them off and log yourself on, it’s no big deal.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    are the car makers offering CNG powered cars making a purpose built engine that will run only on CNG? Optimizing its power by raising the compression ratio for instance, or using the gas in the AC system?

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Regarding cost, it’s necessary to add a couple of $thousand for the home refueling unit in the garage, plus something for installation.

    Also, we shouldn’t assume in advance that government will be falling all over itself to subsidize CNG vehicles or refueling units. With electrical power, government often owns or controls the means of production, so there is a long-term incentive to create massive future tax inflows by getting as many vehicles as possible dependent on being charged by the grid. Not coincidently, said power stations + grids are staffed by public sector labor union employees.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I looked into the Honda (they’re mfg here in Indiana).
      Unfortunately there are only a handful of refueling stations in the Indpls area.

      There are a LOT of comments on various forums about short service life and reliability problems with the home gas compressor.

      Any of the TTAC best & brightest with comments on this?

    • 0 avatar

      @ tparkit ??? The utilities are mostly private.

      If boosting gov’t revenues were the goal, the gov’t would not be financing so much ethanol. That stuff is also private.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      @tparkit

      Were you upset when,during the Bush admin, it was discovered that they were tapping all our phones illegally. And that the phone companies were eagerly complicit. Or do you just live in tin helmetville and prefer Phillip K Dick hallucinations]?

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        You do realize that nothing has changed undeer the Obama adminstration don’t you? Does your kind ever quit blaming Bush for everything bad in the world? It’s been two years now, get over it.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        @MikeAR

        2 unfunded wars – 1 illegal, the other bungled, the treasury emptied, worldwide recession: I’d say you’re rather cavalier about other peoples’ suffering and death.

        Regarding Obama: I find him far too corporate but he’s nothing like the GOP – Universal Health Care and a ban on torture and the ability to construct a cogent line of thought, are a few things different.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Used CNG ONLY vehicles carry a premium of around $2000 over their regular brothers here in LA because you get to drive in the carpool lane solo. The hybrids solo occupancy is being reconfigured this year and next year, but the CNG cars are good through 2015

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    What are going to be the inspection standards for home filling stations? I’m nervous about the safety of my neighbor operating a NG filling station next door, especially a couple of years after installation when it’s been exposed to dampness, temperature extremes, and maybe even a couple of bumps by vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      tooloud10

      Do you get nervous when your neighbor uses gas to cook his food, dry his clothes, or heat his home?

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        No, but he’s not compressing it into a tank when he does that. He can’t do anything more than vent a lot of it at low pressure into a confined space, and as bad as a house explosion can be (we’ve had one locally), it seems less likely to be able to injure me or mine than when it’s being compressed out of household service lines.

      • 0 avatar

        The “Compressed” part is the most important distinction. Look up what happens when a CNG car catches on fire (the CNG Honda Civic was used in a firefighter demonstration). It’s not pretty. Compressed gases can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    No thanks I’ll wait for the Volt to be available where I live. I heat my home with NG, trust me it’s not cheap. Plus who wants to mess around installing a NG filling station in their garage? Much easier to simply wire 220 VAC charger in my garage as the service panel is right there. CNG cars will be part of the solution but expect them to be common place behind EVs.

    @tparkit – Government aside, explain to me how my NG supplier is my buddy and my electrical is not. Both got me by the you know what as I can’t fire either and go with another supplier.

  • avatar

    Honda’s big breakthrough???

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I suppose one huge advantage to CNG over electricity is that these cars could be refueled along the highway, in a matter of minutes.

    Even if you figure in the cost of the home refueling station (net of tax credits), you may be thousands of dollars ahead, compared to the cost of an electric or plug in hybrid.

    It may not be perfect, it may not be for all drivers, but I’m glad someone’s looking at alternatives…

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “Natural-gas-propelled cars are seen by some as even greener than all-electric vehicles, because the latter charge their batteries using electricity often generated by fossil-fuel-fired power plants.”
    If by “some” the Nikkei means “morons”, that would be correct, as the fossil fuel used in many of those power plants is….natural gas! Granted, it may be more efficient to burn the gas in a small ICE rather than to fire a huge gas turbine, convert it to electricity, then transmit it, but I suspect it’s a wash.

    I am curious as to how the cost of an in-home gas compressor compares to a 240-volt charging unit.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      I am curious as to how the cost of an in-home gas compressor compares to a 240-volt charging unit.

      At present, it’s more expensive…but tax credits may offset much of the actual cost. Honda publishes a price in excess of $6,000, and keep in mind that the compressor also requires a 240-volt power supply. The home unit also requires 8 to 10 hours to fill the tank, which carries the equivalent of eight U.S. gallons of gasoline.

    • 0 avatar

      I noticed that fossil fuel gaff, too. But the point is that 1) we don’t depend on a bunch of countries with nasty leadership for natural gas, and 2) natural gas is much less environmentally damaging than coal, which supplies half of our electricity.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        If you lived in the area currently being exploited for Marcellus Shale gas reserves, you might wonder. There’s a lot of hysteria about hydrofracturing the shale formations, most of which is unfounded and based on misinformation and technological illiteracy. Enough of it *is* founded on some very real concerns and abuses, however, for landowners to be alert and monitor the proceedings carefully. I say this as someone with active gas leases.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “If by “some” the Nikkei means “morons”, that would be correct, as the fossil fuel used in many of those power plants is….natural gas! Granted, it may be more efficient to burn the gas in a small ICE rather than to fire a huge gas turbine, convert it to electricity, then transmit it, but I suspect it’s a wash.”

      1) In my province of Alberta, Canada, 90% electricity come from coal burning. As for the US of A, guess how was all the West Virginia Coal used?

      2) Even if “it’s wash” between CNG cars and electric cars powered by NG, don’t forget about the $20~30k cost saving per car (i.e. Civic GX vs. Volt). Money and “green” are always interchangeable. You can always be greener by spending a bit more money; an item is less green if it cost more than a cheaper alternative.

      3) Now who is the moron?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually on natural gas, the EV still will be significantly better. CNG ICE vehicles get pretty horrible fuel economy, only about 30MPGe.

      Distribution losses for electricity is only 7%, and given something like the Leaf gets 99MPGe, that the average natural gas turbine efficiency is 41% vs something like 25% at the best for a small ICE, the EV is likely significantly better.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I’m going to be looking into this more closely in the future, since we have a few gas wells on our family’s farm land in WV, and home use gas has always been free. Lease gas is a lot richer than stripped commercial gas, though, and since it still contains butane, propane, and various hydrocarbons other than CH4, I wonder how differently it would need to be carbureted.

    I assume that the Civic is not a bi-fuel vehicle. That really limits its utility, at least until the CNG vehicle fueling infrastructure gets a bit more widespread.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Just catching upto New Zealand. That land famed for it’s technological prowess.

  • avatar

    The Phill home CNG refueling appliance is made by Fuelmaker, which Honda owned until carmaggedon in 2008. It’s now owned by an Italian company.

    http://www.impcotechnologies.com/phill-dealers.asp

  • avatar

    This company has a Phill CNG refueling unit for $4,995
    https://www.plumbersstock.com/product/38974

  • avatar
    nikita

    We have had several CNG cars, all factory dedicated units, not conversions, in our family over the last decade, so I think I am qualified to comment here. The first was a Ford CV, two Civic GX and a Chevy Cavalier. Upsides, its a regular car, carpool lane stickers, about half the fuel cost of gasoline, “green cred”. Downsides, short range, lost trunk space to the huge fuel tank, limited refuel infrastructure. It is similar to an EV in that you cannot drive it on long trips, city car only. As for “Phil”, forgettaboutit. When you add up all the costs, purchase, permits, installation, power, and feed gas, divided by its lifetime (it shuts itself down at a set limited life), the numbers just dont work. If you live in Los Angeles, or someplace else that has public refueling stations, a fillup takes no longer and is no more difficult than buying gasoline or diesel at the local Chevron station.

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