Honda natural gas car wins LA green prize

Nov 17, 2011
A man walks past a 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas vehicle on display at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California. The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas was named Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show on Thursday, beating finalists including European, US and other Asian carmakers.

The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas was named Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show on Thursday, beating finalists including European, US and other Asian carmakers.

The Japanese automaker welcomed the award, announced on the second media open day of the Los Angeles show, which opens to the general public from November 18-27.

"The Civic Natural Gas is not only a great vehicle, it also demonstrates Honda's commitment to provide a variety of alternatives to gasoline," said Michael Accavitti, of American Co., Inc.

The car is the only factory-built, CNG-powered car produced in America, and went on sale in October with prices starting at $26,155, the company noted.

Honda added that it was expanding its retail network selling the car to 200 dealers in 36 states. Previously it has been limited to four states: California, New York, Utah and Oklahoma.

The five-strong shortlist of environmentally friendly cars each used a different fuel or fuel combinations, demonstrating the growing range of options available for motorists wanting to cut their carbon footprint.

Apart from the Honda, the finalists for the prize -- presented by the editors of Green Car Journal -- were: the Volkswagen Passat TDI, the Mitsubishi i, the V and the Electric.

"That shows the industry is finally getting to the point where there's some consumer choice in green offerings," said John O'Dell, senior editor at Edmunds.com -- a leading website for car buyers.

"When you look at those vehicles, they run the gamut of fuel types, price range and vehicle types," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Last year the annual Los Angeles show's crown went to the 2011 , which beat back competition from Asian rivals including Nissan and Hyundai.

Of this year's finalists, the Mitsubishi and Ford contenders are all-electric; the Prius is a larger version of the popular gas-electric hybrid, and the Volkswagen runs on diesel.

"We have some choices," said O'Dell, "and there will be far more choices a few years from now."

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ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (3) Nov 17, 2011
On no! The US has abundant NG supplies and oil companies might make a profit!
Even worse people can refill from home so the govts will need to figure out a new way to tax NG.
Nerdyguy
2.5 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2011
Good to see a demonstration vehicle, but totally impractical at this point in the U.S.. What would be really helpful would be more multi-fuel vehicles. Hybrids that would run off gas, diesel, electric, or NG. And have solar panels for recharging and running small electronics. But, I digress.
ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2011
CNG would be great for me. I can fill up in my garage.
The Honda CNG is not a demonstration vehicle. It is available for retail.
Many fleet vehicles are running on CNG so the fuel is readily available.
JMDC
not rated yet Nov 18, 2011
Ok...Owning a Honda myself (and loving it), I still have to ask why is this news?
CNG (and/or LPG) Cars have been around for at least 15 years, with some success.
In Most of Europe (Ok, Germany and similar markets) VW has both CNG and LPG models of most of their range...

Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
CNG would be great for me. I can fill up in my garage.
The Honda CNG is not a demonstration vehicle. It is available for retail.
Many fleet vehicles are running on CNG so the fuel is readily available.


Just out of curiosity, how do you accomplish that? Do you have a custom tank, or a connection to the public line?

Also, you mentioned the fuel is readily available. In the U.S.? And by readily available, do you mean for personal use? Because, I have to tell you, I've never, ever seen it. I know it exists, of course, but there's a difference between "readily available" in my mind (e.g., gas pumps) and something that requires special installation or access.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
Never mind. Got my own answer:

"There are about 1,000 NGV fueling stations in the U.S. and about half of them are open to the public. "

Sorry, but this does not qualify as "readily available". I suppose the in-house retrofit would be a better choice, but that's also not convenient vs. gasoline/diesel.

I also checked availability in my area, which is a major metropolitan area. Precisely ONE pump exists, and I'd have to go about 12 miles out of my way to use it. lol
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
Don't buy one Nerd.
Honda had claimed to have a fuel station you can hook up to your home natural gas supply.
Anyone know if propane would work? You can buy propane at Home Depot and at gas stations.
syadasti
not rated yet Nov 18, 2011
Cornell University recently conducted the first preliminary independent study to evaluate the impact of natural gas obtained via shale which will likely be the source for this "green" car has shown it might be worse than the standard gasoline model:

"The take-home message of our study is that if you do an integration of 20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is, in fact, worse than coal and worse than oil,"
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
Cornell University recently conducted the first preliminary independent study to evaluate the impact of natural gas obtained via shale which will likely be the source for this "green" car has shown it might be worse than the standard gasoline model:

"The take-home message of our study is that if you do an integration of 20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is, in fact, worse than coal and worse than oil,"

Of course it is.
JMDC
not rated yet Nov 18, 2011
"SNIP"
Anyone know if propane would work? You can buy propane at Home Depot and at gas stations.


I know people which own cars which run on both C.N.G (mostly methane) and L.P.G. (mostly liquified propane) and, while similar you can not use CNG on a LPG car and vice-versa, barring major mechanical modifications, similar to those one has to make to a gas car in order to run on those fuels.

Mind you, if Liquified propane is cheaper and more readily available than Compressed natural Gas where you live, a conversion of a gas car is not (very) expensive. In sales-tax guzzling Europe, converting, f.ex. an honda Accord, is less than 2500.

On the other hand, there are home fuel CNG pumps (which take the domestic NG feed, compress the gas and store it in a tank for when necessaty), already on the market.

Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
That's all good info, thanks all.

Like I said before, multi-fuel cars would be helpful. In the U.S., there's a bill in process right now that will address this. The idea is to force manufacturers to build the cars with this design in mind. We'll see how far that gets.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
That's all good info, thanks all.

Like I said before, multi-fuel cars would be helpful. In the U.S., there's a bill in process right now that will address this. The idea is to force manufacturers to build the cars with this design in mind. We'll see how far that gets.

When consumers get ahead of the taxman, the taxman has to 'fix' the law.
I suspect many alternate fuel vehicle designs are inhibited by govts because they don't have a process to collect fuel taxes, yet.
jerryd
not rated yet Nov 18, 2011
Home NG refueling pumps are no longer available in the US. Even if they were it takes so much electric to pump it up to 3-10kPSI, that my EV can go 100 miles!!!

So no you can't pump it from a home line, .5psi economically. Though one could heat water, a home with the waste heat.

Nor do most mention NG range, in many cases, similar to EV's.

Most of this can be solved by LNG, cold instread of pressure though maybe carbon filled tanks cab be used. I like NG power as both fairly clean and we have enough for a while. I think it's mostly going to be used in trucks.

Personally I drive my EV for a couple cents/mile on bought green power. A fraction of what a similar ICE would cost to run including everything.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
bought green power.

And heavily subsidized.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
Home NG refueling pumps are no longer available in the US.

How easy was gasoline to get in 1906?
"In 1906 an Atlantic dealer sold gasoline in his livery stable in downtown Titusville, Pennsylvania. This was one of the first dispensing stations in the northwest sector of the state. Others soon followed. In 1907 the Natural Gasoline Company began selling casing head gasoline to motorists at their terminal on the Allegheny River opposite Tidioute, Warren County."
"Other gasoline stations sprung up in the Titusville, Oil City and Reno area in the late teens and 1920. "
http://www.petrol...bib.html
Of course they didn't have to be too concerned about govt subsidies or regulations.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 19, 2011
Isn't it trivial to just use the same type of LPG tank you use for cooking? Lift it to the back of the car and connect the hose.

Most service stations will exchange a tank, and the infrastructure of refilling them is already in place. Once there's enough customers to warrant it, the service stations would buy larger gas reservoirs and set up a proper filling station.

Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2011
Isn't it trivial to just use the same type of LPG tank you use for cooking? Lift it to the back of the car and connect the hose.

Most service stations will exchange a tank, and the infrastructure of refilling them is already in place. Once there's enough customers to warrant it, the service stations would buy larger gas reservoirs and set up a proper filling station.



I think you're referring to propane. The Honda is natural-gas-fueled.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 19, 2011

I think you're referring to propane. The Honda is natural-gas-fueled.


There's very little practical difference between the two in use, except for the fact that natural gas isn't easily liquefied. I would expect an NG car to run on propane just as well. At most it's a matter of tuning the A/F ratio slightly, like in flex-fuel cars that can switch between ethanol and gasoline.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2011
The A/F ratio of natural gas is roughly 17.2:1 while propane is 15.5:1 so all you have to do to run the car on propane is to inject 11% more fuel.

The common small propane cylinder gets you something like 10 kilos of gas, which is 129 kWh or the equivalent of 4 gallons of gasoline. If you get 40 MPG you go 160 miles between refills.

It's like how they envisioned battery changes would work with electric cars, except it would actually work because all you would swap out is an inexpensive steel cylinder that you can lift by hand.
JMDC
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
The A/F ratio of natural gas is roughly 17.2:1 while propane is 15.5:1 so all you have to do to run the car on propane is to inject 11% more fuel.

It's like how they envisioned battery changes would work with electric cars, except it would actually work because all you would swap out is an inexpensive steel cylinder that you can lift by hand.


Actually, the pumping and injection systems are different. LPG is (in most modern cars) pumped and injected as a liquid in the engine (like gasoline). NG is not.

Also the range question is moot. Unless Honda has really screwed the pooch, all NG/LPG cars also can run on gasoline, exactly because of range limitations. No LPG/NG left, auto switch to gasoline...
As for changing gas bottles, to "reffil" the car, is something I hear about from the 1970's...While not as common as gas stations, I've yet to make a car trip where there isn't a LPG station ar least every 80 km (except in Spain...)
JMDC
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
BTW, and I think this as been said before, but:
1 - This technology is not even remotely new. It has been used for at least 40 years in Europe;
2 - NG (and LPG) can be considered green only if compared to diesel (Ok, this is only relevant in Europe). Otherwise It's only marginally better than Gas (And that is mostly due to a slight increase in engine durability, if properly tuned);
3 - Taxes. Over here (Euroland) you do have to pay fuel taxes on NG and LPG, just like gas and diesel. The taxmen saw that one comming a light-year away...
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Nov 24, 2011

Actually, the pumping and injection systems are different. LPG is (in most modern cars) pumped and injected as a liquid in the engine (like gasoline). NG is not.


For a car that runs on gaseous NG you could run it on gaseous propane equally well. You don't have to inject the propane as a liquid.

The point is that you want to make the car run on gas (not gasoline) only , and how to solve the problem of inadequate infrastructure. Well, the answer is that the filling stations are already there, and if there isn't one then you can use a gas bottle until you get to a proper filling station. The lack of filling stations shouldn't be a problem because there already exists an infrastructure for refilling gas bottles which can substitute for the filling stations until there's enough of the cars around to justify building them.