Chevrolet, Honda Give CNG Passenger Cars Another Chance

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Aside from a few trucks, some taxis and a fair number of buses, natural gas doesn’t receive a lot of play in the alternative energy game in comparison to darlings such as electric power and hydrogen. Despite this condition, Chevrolet and Honda are both ready to push natural gas onto commuters and efficiency-minded consumers alike.

The Detroit News reports Honda recently introduced a new generation of its Civic Natural Gas model, featuring amenities like heated leather seats and premium sound systems the previous model lacked. Chevrolet, on the other hand, plans to bring a dual-fuel Impala to the party in a few months, being able to use either CNG or gasoline depending on the situation.

Though both brands are willing to give CNG passenger cars another shot, not too many others are as willing. Most automakers believe there’s no money or demand to be found in the alternative fuel, legislators are too focused on the in-crowd of energy solutions, and environmentalists are playing the long game instead of being in the present.

As for the vehicles themselves, both models will come straight from the factory with the same warranties as their gasoline-powered siblings, with the expectation of greater confidence in CNG from the consumer as a result. The Civic and Impala will likely drum up competition among other CNG vehicle manufacturers for the first time in a decade, as well.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

More by Cameron Aubernon

Join the conversation
13 of 56 comments
  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Sep 19, 2014

    CNG makes the most sense as a passenger fuel, it would solve most of our energy problems over night and burns about 90% cleaner. I just can't understand why there isn't a bigger push for it, especially among the Big 3 that need large trucks and SUVs to survive. For whatever reason, too many people get hung up about it being a fossil fuel, but completely ignore how the "perfect" electric car got its electricity.

    • See 6 previous
    • Russycle Russycle on Sep 19, 2014

      @bunkie Just because I'm cranky: "Yet a Tesla has a battery that is as long as the car," Which is a problem because...why? Admittedly, if the battery were longer than the car, that would be a problem. But it isn't, so it isn't. "...weighs over a thousand pounds" Yes, and it's powering a motor that has no problem catapulting that battery and the rest of the car to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. And that 1000 pounds rests beneath the car, creating a very low center of gravity that results in exceptional handling. "...and costs about $30,000" Admittedly, that's disqualifying for my wallet. For people dropping 70 grand on a car, it's not a big deal. Expensive cars have expensive components, news at 11. "..(and has blown up and caught fire) " just like every power source that's ever been used in a self-propelled vehicle, including CNG. If Teslas are more prone to fires and explosions than other vehicles, I haven't heard about it.

  • PandaBear PandaBear on Sep 19, 2014

    I was seriously considering a Civic GX as a cheaper way (than a Tesla or a PHEV, Leaf doesn't have enough range for round trip) to get on the carpool lane, and I gave up after some research. The tank needs to be replaced after 15 years, and that cost much more than the battery of a hybrid ($6k last time I heard), the fueling at home option is not available after Phil goes out of business, nor was fuel at home cheap if you consider the cost to install Phil, and they seems to have a lot of filter getting clogged issue, and fueling station pressure not high enough (i.e. after you wait in line for a fleet of bus , garbage truck, or municipal CNG fleet cars just refueled) and out of the way. Sure the fuel is $2 a gal equivalent, but a used CNG car that you have to throw away at year 15 is not a good deal, let alone a new one at full price, when comparing to a plug in or an EV if you want a carpool lane sticker, and even less competitive when you don't and compare it against a regular hybrid like Prius.

    • See 1 previous
    • PandaBear PandaBear on Sep 19, 2014

      @SCE to AUX What I said was the labor and part to replace the CNG tank is $6k. Last time I heard a 1st gen Insight rebuild with new cell battery pack is $2k.

  • RHD RHD on Sep 19, 2014

    It's also worth noting that although mining is required in order to manufacture the batteries for electric cars, once the battery is no longer usable, it is entirely recyclable. At some point the mining required to produce car batteries will be greatly reduced - just as recycled steel, copper and aluminum are being used as a primary resource by industry now.

  • Russycle Russycle on Sep 19, 2014

    From C&D's review of the 2012 CNG Civic: " the Civic LX and hybrid cost 9.0 and 8.0 cents per mile compared with just 5.6 cents per mile for the CNG." The 2012 version carried a $5600 premium over the gasoline Civic, so your break even point on the CNG model was about 165,000 miles. And you're driving those miles with more weight, less horsepower, and a compromised trunk. Honestly, I can't see the point.