CNG refueling

Natural gas home refueling appliance.

The only automaker currently selling natural gas-powered passenger car s in the U.S.  is Honda. The Japanese automaker wants to double sales of its Honda Civic Natural Gas sedan and to do so it wants some of its dealers to install compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling stations.

Steve Center, U.S. vice president for environmental business development for Honda said in an interview earlier this week that more CNG fuel stations are needed to boost sales of the CNG-powered Civic Natural Gas sedan. Center said Honda was talking with California regulators and hopes to add CNG fuel stations in at least two Honda dealers by the end of this year.

The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas sedan is built at Honda’s Greensburg, Indiana manufacturing plant. The automaker wants to increase production to meet the demand of an increasing number of dealers certified to sell Civic Natural gas cars. Currently Honda sales Civic Natural Gas models at 270 U.S. dealerships.

According to Bloomberg the International Association for Natural gas Vehicles websites says there were 1000 CNG fuel stations and 112,000 CNG powered vehicles on U.S. roads at the end of 2010. And that number is set to climb further still: both General Motors and Chrysler announced their new bi-fuel CNG-powered pickups this week. Honda wants to double sales of the Civic Natural Gas to 4000 to 5000 cars a year.

Like electric cars, some consumers worry about “range anxiety.” The Civic Natural Gas holds a gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) of eight gallons and averaged 31 mpg (27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway) or an estimated average range of only 248 miles. An increased number of CNG fuel stations would help give consumer more confidence in CNG powered cars. 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas cars can be equipped with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System that can tell owners where to find public-access CNG refueling stations nationwide.

Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner burning than regular gasoline. According to Bloomberg, the Department of Energy says a GGE of compressed Natural gas in January cost an average of $2.13. Regular gasoline averaged $3.37 a gallon.

The Honda Civic Natural Gas starts at $26,925 ($28,425 with navigation). Earlier this week, Obama asked Congress to raise the tax credit on alternative-energy vehicles to $10,000 and make the credit available at the dealership at the time of purchase. Consumers will have to wait and see if Congress will pass the tax credit.

The Phill Home Refueling Appliance, previously available through Honda, is now available through Impco Automotive, a subsidiary of Fuel Systems Solutions Inc. Home refueling stations start at around $4500 and can go up to as much as $10,000 for those who prefer to refuel their CNG powered cars at home.

Photo credit: Green Car Congress

Via Motor Trend