Natural Gas Cars Hit the Road

Discussion
Apr 22, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Honda wants to clear the air. The company has been selling its natural gas vehicles to fleet operators for seven years and now, for the first time, it is offering its Honda Civic GX sedan with home refueling station to consumers in California.

The environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles are striking. According to Honda, cars powered by natural gas emit 87 percent less nitrogen oxide, 70 percent less carbon monoxide and 25 less carbon dioxide than those that run on standard gasoline.

Although it needs to be refueled more often than its gasoline-powered counterpart, 220 miles on a tank versus 330 miles, the natural gas Civic GX is cheaper to fuel on a mile basis (3.75 cents compared to 8.8 cents).

Honda, according to The Associated Press, expects to sell 300 of its natural gas Civics this year.

The manufacturer of the refueling machine, FuelMaker Corp. out of Toronto, plans to make its equipment available for purchase in locations outside of California including Arizona, Salt Lake City, Dallas and Milwaukee.

Moderator’s Comment: Have events, such as the war in Iraq, rising oil prices, and reports on global warming, created the conditions for developing a
mass market for hybrid cars and other alternative energy products? What is the market for commercial users such as the fleet of vehicles used by companies in distribution?


George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "Natural Gas Cars Hit the Road"


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David Livingston
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
My guess is the oil companies will not allow this to happen so long as there is still oil to pump out of the ground. Now that we have conquered Iraq, regardless of what is said, those oil fields belong to us. We will be driving our SUVs until we have milked those wells dry. I don’t think the major automakers want to go this way either. Sure, they will sell an overpriced hybrid car here and there for appearances sake. But they prefer to sell big gas guzzlers. Gas really is not all that expensive in this country. Go to Europe and see what they have been suckered and taxed into paying for fuel, forced to ride bikes, scooters, uncomfortable small cars, or take public transportation. Imagine driving across Montana in a Mini? NO! We want to drive a big SUV or pickup truck, 80 miles and hour (that’s about 130 kilometers per hour to you $5.60 per gallon crowd), and getting a freeway tan on our forearm!
Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Bernice and I think alike on this one: “if only.” I recall very similar discussions, on all sorts of alternative energy forms, 30 years and more ago. I believed it was all around the corner, back then. (But back then, it was only a few years after a bunch of us stood in a huge circle and, um, tried to levitate the Pentagon.)

Jim Wisuri
Guest
Jim Wisuri
15 years 10 months ago
Can’t wait for the FuelMaker co-ops that will sprout up in natural-gas-fueled subdivisions. Tom will convince Dick and Harry that they should pool their resources and have only one natural-gas pump that they all will share. The sitcom will continue as lines form in Tom’s driveway as Dick and Harry need to refuel at the same time in the morning. The village board will eventually pass restrictions on FuelMaker time shares. etc. Seriously, the clean-fuel, clean-air issue hinges upon infrastructure conversion and behavior modification. There are plenty of people who want to do right by the environment and would buy a natural-gas fueled vehicle this afternoon if they could be assured that enough fueling infrastructure was in place to go wherever they wanted to go. But for that to occur, there are mind-boggling environmental and fire-safety regulations that will have to be addressed — at the federal, state and local levels. And, from the change-in-lifestyle department, envision the day when 75 percent of convenience stores vanish from the landscape because no one needs to refuel… Read more »
Robert Straub
Guest
Robert Straub
15 years 10 months ago

In regards to Mr. Livingston’s comments on European driving: how many people drive across Montana compared to people driving around the major cities of Europe? Would you want to drive around Milan in a Suburban? Also, using the Mini as a measuring stick for European cars is like using the Excursion to describe all US cars. I’m over 6 ft. tall and I’ve found most European cars – from Audis to Skodas – to be quite comfortable.
Luckily, we don’t live in a one size fits all world.

Finally, back here in the US, I do have a mid-sized SUV, but I ride my bike to work whenever possible. For some people, exercise is not such a bad thing. Although, it is difficult to listen to talk radio on a bike – which could be a problem for Mr. Livingston.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 10 months ago
The demand for the Prius, at least here in California, shows that the makings of a market do exist. The new Lexus RX400 has created something of a frenzy — the combination of high fuel efficiency, low emissions, and performance (more hp and torque than the regular RX330) has folks here all worked up. I do believe we have little choice but to begin examining all aspects of our energy use and start being smarter. The market for hybrid cars is going to continue to grow; slowly not doubt, but I expect it to be steady. I also expect hybrid technology to make its way into the mainstream of most car manufacturer’s lines. As production volumes grow, the premiums will go away, and you’re left with a car that has the same performance with higher gas mileage and far lower emissions. That in turn allows the manufacturers to stop blocking fuel efficiency and emissions legislation, and voila, a market. But I do think “hybrid” is transitional. It will buy us time to explore alternative energy… Read more »
Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 10 months ago

I just don’t see this as mainstream stuff. “Home refueling stations”? How many people are going to do that, even in California? 300 Civics in a YEAR? What will it take for people to conserve is a higher tax on gasoline and still higher prices at the pump. For car manufacturers to take this seriously, it will take stricter mileage regulations. And, it will also take stricter air pollution regulations to get most fleets changed to more efficient vehicles. In short, this is going nowhere fast until/unless the Democrats get back in power.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 10 months ago

Look, they’re not going to go mainstream this week, but a beginning is, at least, something. The fact that many stars have chosen to support hybrid cars and have used their equity to encourage more mainstream use is also a plus.

If I were a fleet manager whose trucks operated primarily in a local area, I would certainly be looking into it. Five cents a mile sure adds up fast these days.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

If only.

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