The car for penny-pinching clean-air fanatics who have arduous daily commutes, don't like music or driving and are too anti-social to carpool
July 13, 2005 1:57 PM   Subscribe

The Honda Civic GX NGV is a car that you can fuel up at home by using a unit that taps into your home's natural gas line. There are two major benefits of owning a natural gas powered car: (1) they can use HOV lanes in California; and (2) using residential natural gas as fuel can save a heavy commuter up to $1,000 per year in fuel costs. Ultimately, though, the Honda Civic GX NGV is only for penny-pinching clean-air fanatics who have arduous daily commutes, don't like music or driving and are too anti-social to carpool.
posted by hellx (23 comments total)
Why would you bother? Because home-supplied natural gas is cheap — something in the neighborhood of $1-$1.50 per gasoline-gallon equivalent. In other words, home CNG is half the price of pump gas.

Huh. A year or two ago this wouldn't even have been an issue. In a year or two more this could be a huge cheapening.

Is the GX NGV a hybrid as well, or is it just a standard piston engine, with a standard transmission using natural gas rather then gasoline?

The problem, as i see it, is that even you can get a home fueling station, you still need another car for long trips, because you can't natural gas from other people's homes, even though they have hookups.

That said, it should be much easier to add natural gas pumps to regular gas stations, since they should already have a gas line.
posted by delmoi at 2:09 PM on July 13, 2005

Obviously it's meant to be a fleet car... Honda is certainly not going to any lengths to make it attractive to the average customer.
posted by clevershark at 2:18 PM on July 13, 2005

I can't wait for the tuners to get ahold of one of these and make the world's fastest gas grill.

Out here in California where I saw gas at $2.65 a gallon for the regular, this will fly and it will fly well. And by fly I mean they will fly out of the dealer showrooms.

delmoi, I'd imagine they're working on a portable solution to just that issue of longer trips and nowhere to fill up.

From the specs page, it appears to be a regular engine and not a hybrid but its kind of hard to tell.

I just noticed this and its the killer refueling the GX with Phill can take up to 12 hours. Sorry, that ain't gonna fly.
posted by fenriq at 2:34 PM on July 13, 2005

fenriq, i saw that too (12-hour recharging) but then i also saw:

But sometimes you'll need to fill up on the road...At times like these, you can refuel in mere minutes at the numerous alternative fuel stations throughout California.

i wonder how they pull that off.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:37 PM on July 13, 2005

The fuel stations probably have pumps that are more powerful than the ones on that Phill gizmo.
posted by clevershark at 2:45 PM on July 13, 2005

if only it came with a manual transmission.
posted by nearo at 3:22 PM on July 13, 2005

Probably, clevershark. Natural gas pressure at home is slooooooooow. When it comes time to relight the ancient gas furnace in my apartment in December, it takes about 15-20 minutes to build up enough pressure to light the pilot.

"I don't remember the air in the garage being so wavy."
posted by RakDaddy at 3:30 PM on July 13, 2005

Now all they need to do is make it a hybrid too!
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 3:35 PM on July 13, 2005

There are quite a few compressed natural gas stations in Vancouver, BC. I saw a couple of cars with "Natural Gas" stickers on them today when I ran a couple of errands. Larger commercial CNG Vans/Trucks are not uncommon, either.

It was my understanding that you can get total-engine-conversions to CNG, but I'm a little spotty on this.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:54 PM on July 13, 2005

My buddy has a Ford Expedition outfitted with natural gas as an alternative to regular pump fuel. The best part is, he can click a switch in the dash to pick which one he wants. He's got the natural gas pump in his garage. He fills up every once in a while, and his daily commute is both cheaper, and never requires a trip to the local gas station. If he needs to go on a trip, or just runs low on n.g., he switches over to the stock gas tank. Pretty good deal.
posted by gummo at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2005

I found the last article, which mocked the car for only having 100 horsepower through a 1.7 litre 4 cylinder engine to be bizarre, in the context of fuel prices and that most cars seem to spend most of their time idling in traffic.

By european (and many other places) standards, that's a perfectly reasonable powertrain - it's fit for purpose, where the purpose is travelling, rather than burning shit off and bein' a man!
posted by wilful at 5:24 PM on July 13, 2005

Maybe Europeans just buy cars for transportation (as opposed to compensating for, well, other shortcomings). It's not exactly like one needs a 4-wheel-drive V8-powered SUV to brave the awful weather that Southern California is famous for...

Today I saw something funny -- a Honda Civic hatchback covered in auto-parts stickers, as well as one on the back window that says "Don't try to race me, drive safely". Yes, a Honda Civic. It even has a fake second exhaust pipe.

It wasn't as funny, though, as another Civic hatchback parked near where I used to live. Also a really shitty rice job, except that this one had a sheet of paper on the back window that said "BLOWN ENGINE. Please don't tow."
posted by clevershark at 6:11 PM on July 13, 2005

RakDaddy, there is something wrong with your gas furnace
at home if it is truly taking 20 minutes to build up pressure
to light the pilot. If you actually mean that you have to
hold the pilot knob down for 20 minutes before the pilot
will stay lit, that is another problem that is solvable by
replacement of the thermocouple in your furnace, or by
realignment of your thermocouple so that it more completely
intercepts the pilot flame.

Natural gas at home is delivered at a pressure of 11 inches
WC, or about 1/2 psi, and can easily deliver that natural
gas at a rate that is equivalent to about a gallon of gasoline
an hour.

Personally, I yearn for a car with about 63 horsepower,
and 16 gears.
posted by the Real Dan at 6:45 PM on July 13, 2005

I rather fancy one of these myself.
posted by clevershark at 7:01 PM on July 13, 2005

It is extremely common for vehicles in China to run on CNG or Compressed Natural Gas. It is used by nearly every taxi, (I would say every but since I haven't been everywhere in China I'll hedge), and short range delivery type vehicles. So, yeah, by most fleet vehicles. CNG stations are common and easy to find but are seperate from gas/petrol stations.
posted by geekyguy at 7:59 PM on July 13, 2005

Map of alternative fuel stations in California.

I guess it wouldn't be all that inconvenient to own one of these. Except for having to refuel every couple of days...
posted by facapulco at 8:47 PM on July 13, 2005

It always struck me as rather ridiculous that alternative energy technology is rolled out in the cars that are most efficient to begin with. Where are the hybrid Navigators and Hummers? Why can't the soccer moms of the U.S. have a CNG powered minivan for their short jaunts to and from school, the park, the dance lesson studio and the supermarket? How about a full-sized LEV sedan for those of us who want a little room and a little comfort? Why is energy efficiency seen as incongruent with utility or luxury?

I mean, a Civic is fine and good, but it's not often that you see a family of five and a dog crammed into one going off to visit grandma, or a few urban refugees packing one up with bikes and tents and supplies for a week of camping in the wilderness. Why aren't they matching this technology which the world needs with the types vehicles that people very obviously want, based upon sales?
posted by Dreama at 11:09 PM on July 13, 2005

Dreama - that's bloody dead on. One would *expect* "soccer moms/dads" to adopt the CNG/hybrid/clean vehicles... but I suspect that - bah.

Driving a high horsepower car = feeling power.
Petty Power = "being able to afford it."
"Safety" = money (yeah, right)

Fark the stupid sheep - if only their actions didn't negatively impact everyone around them.

They should be the first against the wall then the revolution comes.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:42 PM on July 13, 2005

If you see five people and a dog in an Expedition, its fuel economy per passenger-mile is actually pretty decent, better than a Civic carrying only the driver. They're not the problem. The problem is that too many Expeditions are driven large numbers of miles with only one passenger.
posted by kindall at 12:27 AM on July 14, 2005

My wife and I purchased a Honda GX NGV a little over a month ago as a second car for commuting to work. We love it. Gas at the pump is about $1.50 and it gets mid 20s to low 30s mileage. The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) helps make the most out of the horsepower.

It's the cleanest internal combustion engine available to consumers. Also, natural gas is a mostly domestic fuel (roughly 85% US, 15% Canada)... which helps make for a cleaner conscience.

There's a fueling station nearby that's convenient enough (it's like having a private fueling station since there's almost never anyone there). Fueling the vehicle takes about as long as it does to pump gas into a car - a couple of minutes at most.

Downsides. The fuel tank takes up most of the trunk (you don't see it, but the trunk is not much wider than the width of a paper grocery bag. The fuel capacity is modest - the car's range is somewhere between 200 to 300 miles. I've heard people say they've driven from LA to Los Vegas or San Francisco, but you'd have to do extra planning to know where you can stop for fuel.

Also, the gas pressure at the pump may vary: sometimes it can only fill your tank to say, 60% or 80% capacity instead of the full 100%. Other stations (I'm told) rarely have pressure issues.

Overall we're very happy with the purchase and would recommend it to others if they have a nearby place to fuel it.
posted by Davenhill at 1:29 AM on July 14, 2005

Hate to be in that HOV lane with one of those things in front of me.
posted by cpchester at 7:06 AM on July 14, 2005

Oh, I thought you meant this Honda.
posted by cpchester at 7:09 AM on July 14, 2005

gummo - can you email me wiht more details on your buddy's expedition. I'm interested and dont want to derail, but you have no email address on your contact page.
posted by Irontom at 9:13 AM on July 14, 2005

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