We Talk NGVs With Honda – Honda Talks Back!


Playtime with the Honda Civic GX was (for me) one of the highlights of last month’s Chicago Auto Show.  A few things happened after Gas 2.0 published the article, however, which were totally unexpected.  The first:  someone at Honda’s PR department actually read it.  The second:  they (the someone at Honda’s PR department) made contact (!).

It’s like I’m a real writer!

After some initial chit-chat and small talk about the “new” Acura nose (which looks like the old Acura nose), we got down to an informal “interview”, which I’ve organized and edited below, in a manner which makes me – ideally – seem like some kind of professional writer with organized and linear thought patterns. (He gets one good interview and it goes to his head – Ed.)

Without further ado, then …

Question 1.  It looks like the Civic GX has been enough of a success in its trial markets to, at least, warrant a new version based on the 2012+ Civic. How different is the new GX compared to the previous generation?

Answer 1. As you may know, the Civic GX is entering into its fourth generation – with the first generation introduced back in 1998. The Civic GX has continued to evolve and improve with each generation, and this fourth generation is no exception. Over the years, the Civic GX has moved from being considered primarily a fleet vehicle to a car embraced by retail customers.

To answer your question: at the moment, we cannot disclose many details on the 2012 Civic GX (those will be announced soon, though). What we can tell you that the new car will have some added features to make it even more appealing to retail customers, and will achieve better mileage (7-8% improvement over the 2011 model). The Civic GX driving experience will also get more customizable, with the first-time application of Honda ECO Assist technology. ECO Assist is also found in our hybrid models, and enhances efficient vehicle operation by providing driver feedback that promotes a more efficient driving style. Basically, we’ll be giving GX drivers more of what they look for in a GX – which is to say additional, driver-focused features that make for a more enjoyable commute and improved fuel economy.

Q2. … and these new, 2012 + GX Civics will be available through every Honda dealer? What about the home fueling rigs – are those available through Honda stores as well?

A2At Honda’s most recent national dealer meeting, we announced that the Civic GX would be made available to any Honda dealers expressing an interest in selling it. It is up to the individual Honda dealership to decide if they will sell the GX to retail customers. Factors like customer interest and CNG infrastructure in their area will come into play when a dealer selects whether or not to sell the GX.

As for the home refueling appliances, there are a few available in the marketplace. The most notable appliance is probably the BRC Fuelmaker system, which is marketed as “Phill”. The Phill is sold through a number of vendors, but not through Honda dealerships – although, at one point, Honda had an ownership stake in the Phill.

Q3.  Do you know what the Phills cost, and how easy or difficult they are to install in a customer’s home?

A3Any customers looking at a home fueling option should contact their local gas company about installation. A Phill distributor would be the best contact for current price information, also.

Q4.  Back to the car itself, then. How different, from a technical point of view, is the engine in the GX compared to say, the engine in a “regular” Civic or the Civic Hybrid? I’m sure you can guess my next question, too.

A4The Civic GX has several different components that separate it from the conventional, gasoline Civic.  I’ve gotten a short list from one of the Honda powertrain guys, which includes:

  • dedicated gaseous fuel injectors
  • single stage, low pressure oil trap filter
  • a tank pressure sensor
  • a tank temperature sensor
  • a fuel rail pressure sensor
  • a fuel temperature sensor
  • a unique fuel shut-off solenoid valve
  • unique fuel filters
  • a CNG fuel receptacle (as opposed to a standard fuel nozzle)
  • inlet valve delay closure
  • a closed-coupled catalyst, with an exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head and a close-coupled two bed catalytic converter
  • a unique tank valve, plumbing, and fuel joint block where line fittings in the trunk are contained within a fuel pipe duct that vents to atmosphere

Q5.  I’ve already alluded to it in the last question, and you even mentioned that the new GX will have ECO Assist, just like the Honda hybrids. So … why not do a GX-style, CNG Hybrid?

A5Right now, Honda is focused on developing conventional, gasoline-electric hybrids – although we are always watching and studying the market.

Q6.  Getting more towards the Civic line, in general, it seems like Hondas have always appealed to people who were concerned about efficiency – but the Civic in particular has a strong presence in the performance and automotive aftermarket industry, as well.  Honda even touched on this with the “Civic Nation” ad campaign a few years ago.  Looking at that, and considering that CNG, of course, has a much higher “octane” rating than gasoline (it’s equivalent to about 130 octane) the idea of a high-performance CNG Civic seems like a very attractive alternative for guys like me and Chris (who are performance enthusiasts as well as green car enthusiasts).  That’s a leading question, I know, but do you think Honda would support enthusiasts tuning the GX/CNG cars for more power and performance the same way they’ve supported the Civic tuners in the past?

A5Honda has always appreciated the creativity of its customers in the marketplace, and we appreciate their passion. Honda engineers have developed the GX specifically to be the best balanced car for the customer. The engine and other areas are specifically tuned to provide a reliable and dependable driving experience. We discourage any modifications to the engine that could void the warranty.

Maybe a nice set of wheels or a Honda accessories spoiler would be a better modification.

(aside:  this is a very standard, professional OEM response that roughly translates to:  “We warranty what WE build, not what YOU build.” which is a topic I’ve discussed at length on the Mercedes-Benz boards)

Q7. Fair enough. We’ve already discussed some of Honda’s hybrid technology, and how that first came to market on the original Insight, but since spread to other vehicles like the Civic, CR-Z, and Accord hybrids. Might the same thing happen with CNG? In other words: what’s the next CNG car coming from Honda?

A7We know there is some demand for a larger CNG vehicle. Customers have expressed interest in a CNG-powered Hondas with more passenger and cargo carrying capacity, and with the new nationwide dealer expansion opportunities, we can now gain a better understanding of what customer demands for CNG powered vehicles will be on a larger scale.

Can we pose that question to your readers? What model would they like to see powered by CNG?

So, Gas 2.0 readers (Gas2ronaughts?), the answer to “What’s the next CNG Honda?” might be found in the comments, below.  If you’re craving a CNG/electric CR-Z hybrid or an ultra-high-compression VTEC Civic Si or a CNG-fueled minivan to pull airport shuttle duty for your hotel, SO HAVE YOUR SAY in the comments.

Source:  Jessica Fini at Honda PR. (Big thanks to Jessica for the awesome interview!)

About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
  • There are two Honda’s in particular that I’d like to see with a CNG model; the CR-Z and the Ridgeline pickup.

    • Jim Corona

      I’m right there with a CNG Ridgeline pickup. I currently have a Ridgeline pickup because I need a larger vehicle that can carry and tow. I’d buy a Ridgeline CNG. If another manufacturer beats Honda to a produce a CNG pickup truck, I’d get that.

  • Nice article…Boone Pickens is no doubt very happy with this news.

  • I’ve been driving my 2002 Civic NGV for over 2 years now and am very happy with it. I’m looking to upgrade to a newer model NGV hoping to bring up the comfort level. What I would REALLY like to see is an AWD Ridgeline since I drive in the snow quite a bit and would appreciate the added cargo space. I’d buy one of those in a heartbeat. Barring that, maybe an Accord for the increased comfort. Thank you Honda for building this car. It has been very reliable and saved me tons of money in fuel costs!

  • I’d love to see a CNG Odyssey minivan, which could trade in-floor cargo room for more tanks and range … but, more than that, I’d really like to see a super-high compression, high-rpm SCREAMER of an engine really make use of the higher octane ratings of CNG. A Proper CRZ GX (and ditch the heavy batteries, while we’re at it).

  • Honda Civic is one of those vehicles that are most popular among public and its sale is increasing day by day so this new GX version is appreciable and it gives a satisfactory drive for its customers.It is nice review.

  • I would love to see gx versions of the Odyssey and Accord!

    Any range over 100 miles is plenty and the ability to refuel at home would be fantastic. Add in the price stability of natural gas instead of unleaded and you’ve got a winner. Maybe I wont be able to go 0 – 60 in 7.8 seconds but I never do that anyway.

  • Kato

    Ridgeline is my vote. It’s already a good truck but cng would make it a great truck!

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  • It is a shame no one can ask any intellegent questions like, Do your customers know injectors cost $500 dollars each and they will fail with even a little oil from public filling stations. Have they fixed the catalitic converters which melted and plugged up in earlier models thus causing overheating of the number one spark plug hole in the aluminum head making it impossible to remove the plug? Is it possible to get the valve changed in the tank or is it still one complete $6000 unit? I had a certified honda take 3 nonths to get fixed and I have been told by honda for some of the other problems to forget it. I was told by American Honda that my cars 1998 and 2002 are too old for them to care about the problems with their poor design.

    • $500 each is pretty standard for a CNG car, and the early models (as with all emerging technology) can be a bit buggy. Regarding 1998-2002 cars, we’re now talking about 10-14 year old cars (we’re in 2012 model year, at this point) so I’m not sure that’s a legitimate gripe? Ford isn’t upgrading 12 year old cars. Mercedes-Benz isn’t. Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Bentley aren’t, and those cars cost orders of magnitude more than the Honda … what do you expect a manufacturer’s role to be in the upkeep of a 12 year old car?

      • Maybe since it’s known that the catalytic converter burns up, plugs up, and causes the front of the head to run too hot and thus causes spark plugs to freeze in the head the models should be recalled, change the catalytic converter and fix their problem rather than act like they don’t know the problem exists. This happened to both my cars. How would you feel if this happened to you and Honda told you to take a hike? Bet me whether or not I ever buy another Honda.

        • I think the level of support you expect from a manufacturer regarding a car that is now over a decade past its expiration date is pretty unreasonable. How many miles are on these cars? 100,000? 200,000? Assuming 12,000 miles per year on a 12 year old car, that’s 144,000 miles easily – well past the manufacturer’s warranty and well into the “on your own” side of vehicle ownership. If you had the problems you mentioned above at say, 32,000 miles (into a 36,000 mile warranty) and Honda didn’t step up, then I think you’d have legitimate beef. As it is: it’s an old car, made with old tech. Your 12 year old laptop is probably a bit buggy as well, and your 12 year old TV probably weighs a ton.

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  • I hope Honda makes and offers thru the online Apple Store an iPhone GPS app that shows you CNG filling stations near to wherever you are.

  • I would by the Ridgeline if it could run on CNG. I think Ford and GM plan on releasing CNG versions of their half-ton pickups in 2012.

    The Pilot would also be a good fit for a CNG model.

    I would really like to see the CNG hybrid, like the interviewer mentioned. The CNG-hybrid technology seems quite logical to me, it’s one of those “why not do that” deals. The same is true for the Civic Si NGV.

    The biggest hang up that I currently have about the Civic GX is the obscene price. The current Civic GX is priced near 26k and it is essentially a base model Civic with a natural gas powertrain. The GX is about 10k more than a comparably equipped Gasoline model which is absurd. If I pay that much for a Civic it better be fully equipped.

  • I’d love to see a little more room and longer range. I drive a 99′ that I bought 10 yrs old and put 25-35 a year on it. I have replaced two injectors at $160 a piece through auto-zone. Frustrating but reasonable compared to dealer parts. The $400 per month I am saving now with gas over $4 a gallon will easily change out a few injectors. Again, more range and more room… I would nominate the CRV. A more multi-use vehicle for me.

  • I would love to see a CRV sized vehicle for more load. I also think optional interiors are a must to reach more buyers. Just a fleet type model doesn’t cut it when shopping against the hybrids with SATNAV and heated leather seating. The parts have to be available so why not offer them? It appears that CNG is getting a lot of positive press lately, and with a PHILL, you never have to worry about an Arab oil embargo gas line to buy expensive fuel. This may be the chance for Honda to grab the green flag back from Toyota!

  • Has the small fuel tank issue been addressed in the CNG Civic?

  • Would love to see a GX Hybrid option. I have owned gas civic and civic hybrid. My only concern with GX Hybrid is having to replace both the tank and battery at some point. My battery had to be replaced at 140k miles, which was covered under California warranty if not the cost would have been $3k.

  • I would like to see accommodation for a tall or large driver in the civic GX or an NGV option on a larger model. Also it would be useful to have an optional driving range extender (another tank) as there are many ‘dry spots’ in the refueling network.

  • Andre Lavoie

    I have a 2007 Civic Si that I wish to convert to a NGV. It would look better parked next to my electric Leaf.

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  • Hilary

    Make the Honda Odyssey in a Bi-fuel model!! As a mother of 7 children, I want to use CNG locally, but still be able to travel across the U.S. with a car load full of kids! Why doesn’t anyone make a bi-fuel (or even dedicated) CNG minivan??!!!! We are stuck with the Chevy 12 passenger vans, which get about 12 miles to the gallon in the city and they are so huge you feel like you are driving an entire continent!

  • Rolini Bertolucci

    The Civic is fine for now. Get me a sub $2000 home refueling station for my garage, and I’ll jump on the opportunity for CNG cars!

  • Virginia

    I am dying to find a company that makes a cng minivan. I, and a million other moms here in Utah would line up to buy a Honda Odyssey with CNG!

  • Mom of three boys

    Cng Honda Odyssey and the Accord.

  • James Kelly

    My wife has a 2006 Civic GX with about 130k miles on it and going strong. Look in the tail pipe and it appears brand new, no carbon soot whatsoever. So, low pollution and the low price of nat gas are the high points. Now with two kids and possibly a third we are looking at minivans until I can get (read: afford to get) a Tesla X. The thought of purchasing a gasoline burning Odyssey just sucks. If a CNG Odyssey was available, we’d have one yesterday.