What if you never had to visit a petrol station again? What if you never had to worry about oil price rises affecting the cost of your motoring? In the US, this is about to become a reality: a Honda Civic that runs on gas with a home refuelling appliance to go with it will be available next spring.
Having built the cleanest car with an internal combustion engine on the planet, there was just one problem: the Civic GX runs on compressed natural gas…. and there aren’t many filling stations supplying CNG.
Honda has formed an alliance with FuelMaker Corporation to bring to market a practical refuelling appliance that takes advantage of natural gas supplied to homes. The two companies are completing development of a product called Phill™ which compresses natural gas to the very high pressure needed by the Civic GX.
As part of the alliance, Honda and FuelMaker have announced plans to begin retail sales of the Phill refuelling appliance and Civic GX natural gas vehicle beginning in California in spring 2005. Up to now the car has been sold only to fleets.
The popularity of natural gas-powered vehicles is gaining momentum as more states enact legislation to permit such vehicles in carpool lanes with just a single occupant. Vehicles powered by natural gas are inherently cleaner than their conventional gasoline-powered counterparts, produce less CO2 and have low fuel costs.
Honda and FuelMaker share a vision for home refuelling as a solution to the challenge of making natural gas a practical alternative to petrol for US consumers.
"The biggest obstacle to broader acceptance of natural gas vehicles is the limited availability of refuelling stations," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda. "This alliance with FuelMaker is great for Honda because it will give our customers a personalised solution to refuelling. Our research indicates people like the convenience of filling up at home. Plus, natural gas offers many benefits as an alternative to gasoline and is an abundant domestic resource that strengthens America's energy independence."
Here in Europe, the advantages of natural gas fuel are offset by the limited number of CNG stations and the limited driving range of the vehicle - although there is an extensive network in Northern Italy and Germany and a growing one in France. Currently however, there are no plans to market either the Civic GX or Phill ™ refuelling appliance in Britain. Honda (UK) remains committed to the IMA technology which can be seen in the Insight and Civic 4 door models, which have already won more than 2000 fans.
To read our in depth road test of the Honda Civic IMA [ click here ]Published 20 October 2004