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New Honda 2012 Civic Natural Gas goes on sale 18 October at Honda dealers in 35 states, up from 4

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2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas. Click to enlarge.

The all-new 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas (formally known as the Civic GX), the only dedicated natural gas-powered passenger vehicle manufactured and sold in the US, will go on sale at qualified Honda dealerships nationwide on 18 October with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $26,155.

To support growing consumer interest in alternative-fuel vehicles, American Honda is expanding its network of US dealers which are qualified to sell and service the Civic Natural Gas to retail customers—expanding sales to 200 dealers in 35 states. Previously, retail sales of the natural gas-powered Civic had been limited to four states: California, New York, Utah and Oklahoma.

The Civic Natural Gas offers multiple benefits including significantly reduced operating costs compared to gasoline and lower fuel costs, with natural gas purchased at public fueling stations historically costing about 30% less than gasoline on a gasoline-gallon-equivalent basis.

As an alternative-fuel vehicle with extremely low smog-forming emissions, the Civic Natural Gas currently qualifies for a state-issued decal allowing single-occupant access to High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) “carpool” lanes in California and several other states. The Civic Natural Gas engine produces almost zero smog-forming emissions and is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle certified by the EPA (Tier-II, Bin-2 and ILEV certification as of August 2010).

The Civic Natural Gas is recognized by the state of California as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) by meeting SULEV emissions standards and warranting its emissions durability for at least 150,000 miles or 15 year (in California and those states that have adopted California’s ZEV regulations). Natural gas, as a lower carbon fuel, emits 25% less CO2 emissions than gasoline when used to power an internal combustion engine.

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2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas engine bay with 1.8-liter i-VTEC dedicated natural gas 4-cylinder engine. Click to enlarge.

A modified 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Civic Sedan and Coupe models powers the new Civic Natural Gas. A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment.

The Civic Natural Gas engine incorporates features to operate exclusively on compressed natural gas. The compression ratio is increased to 12.7:1, compared to 10.6:1 in the Civic Sedan’s gasoline-powered engine. Exclusive fuel injectors, intake and exhaust valves, and valve seats are designed to accommodate the unique properties of natural gas. Stronger connecting rods and crankshaft as well as special pistons are used to accommodate both the higher compression ratio of the engine and octane rating of the fuel.

The Civic Natural Gas has its 3600-psi fuel tank located between the rear wheels. The safety-engineered, aluminum-lined composite fuel tank can contain the gasoline-gallon equivalent (GGE) of 7.8 gallons of gasoline when filled with CNG to 3600 psi.

The Civic Natural Gas has an EPA-rated city/highway/combined fuel economy of 27/38/31 mpg (8.7/6.2/7.6 L/100km), gasoline-gallon equivalent (gge).Compared to the previous model, city fuel economy is up by 12.5% and highway fuel economy is improved by 5.5%. Additionally, the 2012 Civic Natural Gas achieves a 10.7% improvement in combined fuel economy and range. The new model also incorporates the Honda ECO Assist system, a technology that can enhance efficient vehicle operation at the touch of a button, while also providing visual feedback to the driver to promote and confirm a more efficient driving style.

Building on the successful packaging of the previous generation Civic, the passenger volume of 94.6 cubic feet increases by 3.7 cubic feet, and gains have also been made in front shoulder room (+2.9 inches) and rear legroom (+1.6 inches).

For safety, a wide variety of standard equipment includes Honda’s exclusive Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure for enhanced frontal collision energy management and vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility. ACE enhances frontal collision energy management through a network of load bearing structures in the front of the vehicle. Additional standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) that integrates with the new Motion-Adaptive electric power steering (EPS) system; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; front side airbags with occupant position detection system (OPDS); side curtain airbags; and a 4-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.

Standard equipment on the 2012 Civic Natural Gas includes the new “intelligent” Multi-Information Display (i-MID) that provides a platform for integration of vehicle information and compatible personal electronics with a driver-oriented 5-inch color LCD display and intuitive steering wheel controls. All models also come equipped with Bluetooth HandsFreeLink for wirelessly connecting compatible mobile phones and a USB audio interface for compatible music players.

The redesigned 2012 Civic Natural Gas can now be equipped with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System featuring an exclusive database of publicly accessible Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refueling stations across the United States.

All Civic Natural Gas models are produced at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana (HMIN). The 2012 Honda Civic is covered by a 3-year/36,000-mile New Car Limited Warranty; a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion limited warranty.

Comments

Account Deleted

Unfortunately, I doubt Honda will sell many of the natural gas Civic. Four reasons: 1) it is more expensive than the hybrid Civic that does 44 MPG combined versus only 31 MPGe for the natural gas, 2) a lack of natural gas fueling stations in the US only 950 stations, 3) limited range 242 miles = 7.8*31 and 4) limited trunk space.

The natural gas Civic could be more attractive if it was bi-fuel (CNG and gasoline) and if it got start stop technology that increased its combined MPGe to say 34 MPGe.

The CNG Civic’s attractiveness is that it is a more affordable option than battery electric vehicles to be sure you support the local economy and does not send money abroad every time you fuel.

Dollared

Why is there a lower MPGe? Is it just lower energy conversion efficiency because the combustion system is designed for a liquid fuel?

There is a cost advantage to the fuel - Google tells me it seems to fluctuate in the 30-50% range.

With the cost premium for the vehicle, it would never pencil with the lower MPGe. But if they were equivalent, it would be very interesting - and the fleet applications are many.

Dollared

Never mind - I see your comparison is to the hybrid, that explains the differential in MPGe. So the challenge is not combustion, the problem is the lack of scale manufacturing efficiencies for the changes to the vehicle due to the natural gas requirements.

Nick Lyons

With home refueling (the Phill home-refueling station is back on the market), fuel costs can be very low--as low as $1/gal gasoline equivalent. This would make this car a great daily driver/commuter vehicle. Unfortunately Phill costs $4500, so it's only going to pencil out if your daily commute is pretty long or you drive CNG cars for years, or your state/locality has big incentives to lower the installed cost.

I should think this will succeed as a fleet vehicle. With centralized overnight refueling, operating costs could be quite low. The ultra clean-burning fuel makes for reduced maintenance costs as well. Surely the big gas utilities are going to be looking at this.

Herm

It may make a low cost conversion to an CNG/M85 dual fuel vehicle.. it has high compression already, perhaps a second set of fuel injectors and perhaps something else to deal with the corrosive issues of methanol combustion.

This car is locally fueled, it competes only with electrics in that regard. It should be supported by Fed/State tax credits to the same extent.

Engineer-Poet

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas: $26,155
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid: $24,050
2012 Honda Civic Sedan: $15,805

The premium for NG is ridiculous. Something is fishy.

Mannstein

Hope Honda fixed the problem with the engine block due to a casting defect. The block tends to develop a crack at the exhaust manifold on some Civics. Honda never issued a recall but was forced to extend the warranty after numerous complaints about engine failures.

HarveyD

I agree with P-E. Almost $11K premium for the NG version is too much. BEVs with similar price and performances will be available by 2015. Meanwhile, a down sized Prius (Aqua?) could be a better deal.

Michael Miles

NG vehicles may have much value, especially in places like Minnesota where we get 80% of our gasoline from Canadian shale oil. Al Gore commented that driving a Prius using shale oil is equivalent to driving a Hummer. If true, it is frightening.

Roger Pham

Yes, the premium for the NG version is ridiculous, almost $3,000 higher than the base 2012 Prius hybrid that comes with automatic transmission and automatic AC as standard equipment, while this NG Civic does not even have an automatic transmission.
IMHO, this NG Civic is probably aimed at being fleet vehicles to be driven a lot of miles daily. Othewise, it would not make sense economically. People would rather buy the Prius and still save money on fuel cost.

I think that in order for NG light-duty vehicles to be successful, the MFG's should subsidize the initial cost premium of limited-release vehicles in order to gain market share, after which time, high production number will allow significant cost reduction, as well as more NG public refill infrastructure. This was how the initial 1997 Prius was released, to become a commercial success.

Nick Lyons

@Roger: From the article above:

A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment.

Aussie

I think it should be bifuel so it can run on both CNG and petrol. That way the number of filling stations can build up gradually. It will also enable a fill up in small towns that may not have CNG for years.

Henrik suggests the range is up around 400km. Maybe not with 4 occupants, luggage, a/c and hill climbing. The Bollore Bluecar EV has 250 km range but is effectively a 2 seater I gather.

Regardless of current fuel prices I think we will still have NG 20 years from now but I wouldn't bet on affordable petrol. With a bifuel option this should appeal to many.

Roger Pham

Thanks, Nick, for the correction.

@Aussie,
The NG Civic is optimized for NG with higher compression ratio, hence cannot run on petrol. Beside, it is already very expensive running on NG alone!

Herm

Perhaps fleets get a special deal and the $11k premium is just for private buyers.. in that case Honda is giving you a hint.

ai_vin

@Aussie

As RP pointed out the NG Civic is optimized for NG with higher compression ratio. NG has a octane rating of 120, for gasoline it's 92. You can burn NG in an engine with a lower compression ratio meant for gasoline but...

Account Deleted

@EP
I was also puzzled by the Civic’s high premium for the natural gas option. So I looked up the prices in Germany for the Passat with or without the natural gas option.

Trendline VW Passat gasoline only: 24750 EUR, 6.3L/100km.
Trendline VW Passat gasoline and natural gas: 30225 EUR
Toyota Prius basic version: 25750 EUR, 3.8L/100km.
Nissan Leaf: 35000 EUR.

So you pay 5500 EUR or 7350 USD for the natural gas option in a high volume vehicle and the price for the bi-fuel Passat is also substantially higher than the Prius but still less than the Leaf.

Anyway both VW, GM’s Opel and Fiat will soon market new bi-fuel natural gas models in Europe so they do not consider them irrelevant but actually seem to have intensified their development. For instance, the new VW Up! will come as a gasoline only version starting at 10000 EUR and as a bi-fuel natural gas/gasoline as well as a pure battery electric car. VW have not yet announced the prices for the latter two versions but I guess now that the natural gas Up! will cost about 14000 EUR and the BEV will cost about 19000 EUR (with a 18kWh battery). The up will not come in a full hybrid version but it still has start/stop and regenerative braking as standard and manages 4.5L/100km or about 44MPG in an EPA rating.

Alex Kovnat

I believe its all well and good that Honda is offering the CNG-version of the Civic in 35 states, not just four like they have up until now. Purchase of the CNG-Civic by businesses and government agencies (federal, state and local) should be encouraged.

But if we really want to see more use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, Honda and other automotive manufacturers should offer pickup trucks, vans (i.e. Oddessy) and vehicles like school buses with CNG-engines.

An advantage of using CNG in a larger vehicle like a truck is, one has more room to play around with. Hence it might be feasible to combine CNG with either hydraulic or electric apparatus to recover braking energy and provide launch assist. This would further reduce CO2 emissions.

Roger Pham

CNG in SUV's, pickup trucks and vans is a better idea than in a subcompact model like the Civic. The price premium is probably not a whole lot higher than that of the Civic NG, mostly due to R&D cost and low production number, but the gain in fuel cost saving will double or triple.

Wes

State and federal tax credits on the natural gas version offset much or all of the price difference. Same story for installing home refueling equipment such as the Phill. The remaining price premium can be small enough that non-green buyers will go for them just so they can drive solo in the carpool lanes- that's why they've been able to sell some in California, Arizona, etc. Their challenge now is to be able to get considered as the world focuses on electric vehicles. I'd guess that the size of the price premium is somewhat dictated by the amount of tax credit available and the lack of competitors in the US market.

I've driven bi-fuel and dedicated CNG vehicles in fleets, including previous generations of the CNG Civic, and found that CNG is best done as a dedicated fuel. The ignition characteristics of CNG and gasoline are too different (especially low-octane American gasoline); if you make an engine to do both, it will hate running on CNG- meaning that when running on CNG, it's hard to start, has much less power output, and gets poor fuel economy. By designing the engine for CNG only, most of the fuel economy penalty and power loss is eliminated, and the engine will start as easily as any gasoline car. Bi-fuel might might work better if the designer could be sure the engine would never see low-octane gasoline- this closes the gap between the combustion characteristics of the two fuels and allows use of a higher compression ratio. But American fleet buyers would never tolerate a requirement for premium fuel, and in parts of the US, premium fuel is still fairly low-octane (91 RON or 87 in the typical American R+M/2 units).

Wes

For comparison, natural gas (methane) is 120 octane under either system. That's why CNG vehicles desperately need high compression ratios to manage to ignite it!

Wes

OK, I goofed my octane discussion. I said premium unleaded but then gave numbers for regular unleaded. Premium fuel in parts of the US (like California) is 95 RON, 91 R+M/2.

Aussie

The Opel Zafira CNG seems to be dual fuel
http://www.iangv.org/tools-resources/oem-vehicle-directory/Vehicles-by-Type/Cars/Opel-Zafira-1.6-CNG-turbo-ecoFLEX-(2011)/details.html
using turbocharging. I like the idea that when you run out of fuel on a back country lane you can siphon or buy a small amount of liquid fuel to get to the next service station. Drivers of pure NGVs and EVs can expect to get towed at least once.

D

New CNG car sales will never take off big until he EPA gets out of the way. The price point is too high. It should only cost about $1200-$3000 to convert an engine to CNG. The EPA forces car makers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single engine model "approval". CNG conversions are a great way to go. I learned a lot from www.skycng.com. The dont sell anything, just a reliable source for conversion regulations and emissions questions, etc.

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