As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to expand access to alternative fuels and give American consumers more fuel options that save money and reduce harmful carbon emissions, the US Department of Energy has launched a new mobile app to help drivers find ethanol, biodiesel, CNG, LPG, and quick-charging EV stations to keep their alt-fuel vehicles “topped off”.
While this alt-fuel finder app is a fantastic move that should help everyone, it could have come a few weeks earlier, for my purposes. See, few weeks ago I was in San Antonio, Texas driving Honda’s excellent new 50 MPG Accord hybrid. While I was there, I talked to Honda’s PR people about organizing a leaf-peeping trip out to New England in Honda’s ultimate alt-fuel offering, the CNG Civic.
Honda’s response was, in hindsight, predictable. I can sum it up with “Would you be able to find filling stations along the way?”
My response, “That’s the whole point- it’s an adventure!” did nothing to alleviate anyone’s fears, and I get that. If I could do it, drive across America with no headaches in a nearly emissions-free vehicle on about $0.62/gallon (last time I checked), I’d be a superstar. If I couldn’t find a station when I needed one, even if it was my fault, it could paint the little Civic in a negative light- and neither Honda nor the website pushing for something (damn near anything!) other than oil wanted the car to be a star.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve used the alt-fuel finder app to map a route from Oak Park, IL all the way to New Britain, CT, and- thanks to the new iOS app from the DOA, I’ve found 29 filling stations within 30 miles from the optimum route. That’s more than enough to get the sensible Civic from here to there without incident, especially if you play the “never let it get below 1/4 tank” game. Here’s what that route looks like …
… now the only problem is that we’re well past the “prime peepin'” leaf season and we’re getting into the “horrible, midwestern lake effect” snow season. I wonder how many CNG stations there are between Oak Park and Orlando, I wonder.