American Honda Motor Co., Inc. is hoping that the nation’s high gas prices and the availability of an at-home refueling station will triple the sales of its natural gas Civic GX from 500 in 2005 to 1,500 in 2006. The automaker, which centered the car’s original marketing and sales focus on California, plans to expand its campaign to major cities across the United States.
Acclaimed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the natural gas Civic GX can go approximately 220 miles before needing to be refueled. The car looks and runs like Honda’s regular Civic, although it costs about $4,500 more. However, the higher price may be offset by tax credits and incentives that go into effect on January 1, 2006.
While natural gas cars have been on the market the last few years, sales have been low due to the lack of natural gas refueling stations open to the public. In 2004, a total of 130,000 natural gas vehicles were on the road compared to 230 million gasoline-powered cars, according to an October Associated Press story. The article also stated that there are currently just six hundred refueling stations in the country.
Honda is hopeful that the availability of an at-home refueling station produced by the Toronto-based Fuelmaker Corporation will make its natural gas Civic GX more appealing. Established in 1989, Fuelmaker is the leading manufacturer of natural gas vehicle refueling appliances, including a device known as “Phill,” which Civic owners can lease through Honda for $3479 a month.
According to www.honda.com, Phill is a payphone-sized machine that can be mounted on a garage wall or outdoors and takes natural gas from the gas supplied to the home and pumps it into the car. The device is said to be as safe and quiet as a clothes dryer and operates with simple start and stop buttons. Phill will automatically turn off when the tank is full, and it is equipped with features that can monitor and detect minute leaks.