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Sales of Honda's New Natural Gas-Powered Car Pick Up Speed as Fuel Prices Accelerate

By November 13, 2005

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With gasoline prices soaring, more people are looking for alternatives to gas-guzzling SUVs or, well, any type of gas-guzzling car. Hybrids that run on electricity supplemented by a gasoline engine have proved popular, and now Honda has become the first automaker in the U.S. to offer consumers a car that runs on natural gas, the same fuel you may use to heat your home or cook your breakfast before driving to work every morning.

"The market is coming to us," said Gunnar Lindstrom, head of Honda's alternative fuels division, in an interview with the Associated Press.

The Honda Civic GX looks and runs the same as a regular Civic. It even sounds the same, so drivers don’t have to put up with the kind of rattle and hum that have been a problem with diesel engines. The new model costs about $4,500 more than a basic gasoline-powered Civic, but that’s not what has made it a hard sell. Many consumers like the idea of driving a car that is less polluting, costs less to operate and doesn’t rely on foreign oil, and they’re willing to pay more for it.

The big problem up until now has been that there are relatively few public stations that sell natural gas for automobiles—only about 600 in the United States—so drivers were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get fuel when they needed it.

That problem has been solved by a Toronto-based company, FuelMaker, Corp., which sells a home-based refueling machine that motorists can keep in their garage and use to refuel their cars overnight. The machine, about the size of a suitcase, compresses natural gas from the lines in your home and pumps it into the fuel tank of the Honda Civic GX. Refueling takes about eight hours.

Other benefits of driving a car powered by natural gas include hefty tax credits in some states and a new federal tax credit (beginning January 1, 2006) of $3,600 for the car and $1,000 for the home-based refueling machine. Another federal tax credit of $30,000 for anyone who builds a public refueling station, plus 37 cents for every gallon sold, may also increase the number of refueling stations along the highway.

Comments

January 29, 2007 at 12:42 pm
(1) margaret holloway says:

If the government would help with the price of the car. 25,000 is still to high for me. If they would give a tax rebate of 5,000 on top of the states then more people would buy them.

April 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm
(2) used jones says:

well no one is going to see any major changes until it is truly profitable for the private sector to make fuel efficient cars. when the technology improves and the cost to produce declines, thats when your gonna see a major push for better, fuel efficient vehicles.

May 9, 2008 at 2:33 am
(3) Garko Novis says:

buying gas has become a major investment decision, as in “do i invest in some food so i can get thru the day or some gas so i can get where i have to go?” It should never be this way but it is. But that doesn’t mean we have to just suffer. There is a real solution in Water4Gas and you owe it to yourself to check it out! http://w4g4mpg.info

June 16, 2008 at 8:47 pm
(4) Paul Ingraham says:

I rented a car last year from a cut-rate rental outfit in Seattle and it had dual fuel capability. CNG or Gasoline. I asked about it and the rental guy said it was a fleet vehicle that they got cheap. I wonder if those are out there on the market and available for a more reasonable price than the Honda GX? Worth checking.

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