Gas prices are up and, unlike most bumpkins who forget to account for it, it is darn expensive even accounting for inflation. Honda is capitalizing on it by offering an incentive, namely that anyone who buys a Civic Natural Gas gets a $3,000 gas card for Clean Energy CNG stations.
Free gas on Honda with purchase of Civic Natural Gas
Only one natural gas car can be purchased at dealerships mostly nationwide, the Honda Civic Natural Gas. The car runs on compressed natural gas, or CNG. Natural gas is a common hydrocarbon gas, related to methane, and is combustible, meaning it’s usable as a fuel, but burns much cleaner than gasoline.
Natural gas also happens to be cheaper than gasoline at the moment, about $2 per gallon, according to AutoGuide, or rather the equivalent volume of CNG to one gallon of gasoline. As a result, Honda is offering an incentive to buy one. Anyone who buys a Civic Natural Gas gets a $3,000 gas card on the house.
A few catches
There are a few hitches. Firstly, there is a limited supply. According to Automobile magazine, only 199 Honda dealers in 36 states have the Civic Natural Gas. At that, the car is expensive, $27,065 after destination fee. As with other green models, the Civic NG is an upscale trim, sharing many features with the Honda Civic EX, according to USA Today, the second-most expensive trim, itself $5,650 cheaper than the Natural Gas model. It does, though, get combined mileage of 31 miles per gallon, making it very fuel efficient.
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The car also, according to Automobile, has only 5 cubic feet of trunk space, due to the natural gas tank being located there, about the same as Mazda Miata.
Buyers also have to make the purchase by Jan. 2, 2013, to get the gas card.
The card is also a preloaded debit card for only one brand of fuel station, Clean Energy CNG which, according to MarketWatch, consists of 35 stations in and around Los Angeles. All told, that state has about 108 fueling stations in 83 cities. Honda’s pitch is mostly aimed at Californians, given the branded fuel card and the recent fuel crisis in that state.
Cheaper to convert a normal Civic
Natural gas is viable as a fuel. There is a good supply in the United States and it’s cheaper than gasoline, so people in areas that can get it might want to take a look at the Civic Natural Gas. However, there’s some food for thought before running the price tag through an auto loan payoff calculator.
Converting a car to natural gas is fairly simple; all it takes is the addition of a few valves, a fuel tank and modifying the fuel injection system’s electronic control module to boost the compression and mix ratio. The cost of converting a car to natural gas is expensive though; Popular Mechanics reported in 2011 that it ranges from $6,500 to more than $12,000.
Converting a lesser trim of the Civic would come in under the Civic Natural Gas’ MSRP. However, it might void the warranty, so tread lightly. PM also recommends a flex-fuel engine, which has parts more suited to using multiple fuels and is more durable.
Another thing to bear in mind is that there are, according to the Department of Energy, only 519 public CNG stations are open nationwide.
Popular Mechanics: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/maintenance/should-you-convert-your-car-to-natural-gas