Nov 282011
 


Gas Instead of Electric or Hybrid

In recent years full plug-ins and hybrids have taken the honours but for 2012 Green Car Journal made an unexpected choice in selecting its green car of the year. It’s unexpected because the Honda Civic GX has an engine and pumps out exhaust fumes without an electric motor in sight.

Honda Civic beats Electric Cars

But in choosing Honda the panel noted that no other internal combustion engine car comes close to matching this natural gas vehicle’s emission levels, and it’s also recognition of the fact that there is no single solution to our transportation challenges. It beat other Electric Cars such as the Mitsubishi I and Toyota Prius. This car does 48 miles per gallon on motorways which makes it all the more strange that other car manufacturers have not jumped on the natural gas bandwagon. Honda is still the only major automaker to produce a commercially available car that runs on natural gas. And the Honda Civic is a vehicle that has been around since 1998 so it’s not exactly new: just the technology has evolved.

Honda Civic Natural Gas Powered Vehicle (NGV)

Honda Civic Natural Gas Powered Vehicle (NGV)

Cheaper than Electric and Hybrid Cars

Even when it first came out, the Honda Civic GX looked exactly like its petrol-guzzling cousin and ran fairly similarly too, except it was a lot quieter. And the price is very reasonable as well, especially when compared to hybrids. What this vehicle offers is something remarkably similar to a petrol or diesel engine vehicle in terms of ride and performance, something that electric vehicles have struggled to do, especially when it comes to top speed.

Why so few Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs)

These are all fairly attractive plusses when it comes to natural gas vehicles – so why are there so few natural gas vehicles – NGVs – around? The truth is that in the West there are very few – for example the US had only just over 100,000 such vehicles in 2009 – but in developing parts of the world they have become increasingly popular, especially in countries that produce their own gas.

Thailand Taxi is NGV

Visit Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, and nearly all the city’s official taxis are NGV vehicles with gas canisters stowed away in the boot. There may not be a whole lot of space for baggage but these are vehicles that are considerably more fuel efficient than their black cab counterparts in London. Pakistan runs the highest number of NGVs with nearly 3 million and counting. Iran has 2 million and so too Argentina, while Brazil has around 1.8 million natural gas vehicles on its roads and India about 1.2 million. The Asia-Pacific region has by far the most natural gas cars in the world with a total of around 7 million.

NGVs reduce wear and tear

And aside from the fuel efficiency advantages, NGVs also create a lot less wear and tear on the engine meaning they tend to last a lot longer. With this award for the Honda Civic GX, Green Car Journal is reminding the world of these major advantages and that the future need not necessarily be strictly electric to reduce overall emissions. It’s also a major wake-up call for the West that seemed to have forgotten about natural gas vehicles when they really should be at the fore.


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