Even though the Prius gets the headlines, arguably the greenest vehicle available to US buyers for the past seven years has been the California-only natural-gas-powered Honda Civic GX.
Since the infrastructure hasn’t been there to support widespread distribution of NGVs, however, Honda has kept production numbers of the GX very low.
According to Honda’s senior manager of alternative vehicles, the company has plans to double production of the GX over the next 2-3 years.
“With the activity in the environmental vehicle space, we’re anticipating growth in sales of CNG vehicles, not only in California but nationwide,” said Elmer Hardey, Honda’s senior manager of alternative vehicles. “We’re considering doubling sales in the next two- to three-year horizon,” Hardey said. Last year, Honda sold less than 2,000 Civic GXs—so a doubling is still a modest increase in production. The Civic GX will also be offered with nicer amenities, such as a navigation system and premium stereo package.
Hardey acknowledges several factors still keeping CNG cars a small niche, most notably limited access to CNG fueling stations, which could be solved by products like the BRC Fuel Maker, which costs consumer about $4,500 (after a $2,000 tax credit).
Currently, buyers of Honda’s Civic GX are eligible for a $4000 tax credit for simply buying the car, which stickers for around $25,000. At that price, the GX – with its access to HOV lanes and significant fuel savings – might just be able to find a home outside of California, as well.