Natural Gas Cars for Sale, New and Used
Natural Gas Vehicles
There are many DIY conversion kits available for you to convert your own vehicle to use Natural Gas and there are many vehicles that have already been converted to use Natural Gas for sale. Honda currently makes the only factory Natural Gas vehicle, NGV available in the U.S.- the Honda Civic GX NGV (Natural Gas Vehicle). but they are only sold in NY and California. The Civic has a tank size equal to 7.8 GGE tank. Using the EPA fuel rating of 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, the range should be between 187 and 281 miles depending upon what kind of driving you do. But remember that you can not use all the Natural Gas in a pressurized tank, so the most commonly reported number seems to be about 175 miles per tank.
Natural Gas Vehicles around the World - There are only about 110,000 vehicles that use Natural Gas in the U.S., but there are about 12 million world-wide. Pakistan has the most CNG capable vehicles (over 2 million) and Argentina, Brazil and Iran all have over 1.5 million CNG vehicles each and India has almost a million. Interesting that Brazil has that many CNG vehicles. I thought they were supposed to be putting all their eggs in the ethanol basket. I guess not. Alternatives, options and flexibility is the key.
In Europe, many car manufacturers sell vehicles (cars and trucks) that are powered by both CNG and gasoline (duel fuel). These include Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo and GM (Opel). This usage of duel fuels seems sensible (and flexible) and increases the range of the vehicle when needed and when CNG stations are hard to find. If this option were available in the U.S., I think the idea might catch on. All that is needed to switch from one fuel to another is easy as flipping a switch. Why is this option not available in the U.S.?
Bi Fuel Vehicles - Switch From Natural Gas to Propane
Disadvantages of Natural Gas
Fuels stations may be hard to find in some states and vehicles have lower range per tank than typical gasoline vehicles. Currently, there is only one factory CNG vehicles available in the U.S. (conversion kits are available). The CNG tanks in the Civic (and in converted vehicles) usually takes up trunk, back seat or space in bed of truck. Since CNG is a pressurized fuel, all of the fuel in the tank will not be usable. I read somewhere that it seems as if the amount of fuel that can be pumped into your CNG tank is also based upon the condition of the compressor at your filling station and you may only be able to fill the tank about 85% full. Natural Gas is also a non-renewable (not in our lifetime anyway) fossil fuel. There is also some price volatility for Natural Gas during extremely cold winter months and as we also saw during the 2005 hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico.
Advantages of Natural Gas
One of the main advantages is that using CNG reduces our reliance on foreign fuel imports (Most Natural Gas in the U.S. is produced domestically) and CNG is less expensive than gasoline (currently about 64% of gasoline price). There are also environmental reason for using Natural Gas in vehicles, and many Cities are converting buses and taxis to Natural Gas to reduce emissions. CNG has lower CO2 emissions (lower carbon footprint) about 20-30% less than gasoline and lower NOx (Nitrogen oxides) emissions 75-95% less than gasoline - NOx causes SMOG and acid rain and lower CO emissions 70-90% less than gasoline- CO is a greenhouse gas, also causes SMOG, Ozone and is indoor poisoning hazard. Another advantage is that CNG burns so clean, there is very little spark plug fowling or other carbon deposits. There are also Federal Tax credits for buying new CNG vehicles. The current tax credit for the Honda Civic GX NGV is $4,000. The tax credit is not available to the new buyer when the vehicle is re-sold or for converted vehicles.
Natural Gas Stations
There are currently about 875 CNG stations in the U.S., with the most stations in California (217), New York (100) and Utah (73). In all, there are 21 states with at least 10 stations and 24 states (and Wash DC) with less than 10 stations, but there are no CNG stations in Iowa, South Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia or Hawaii. Kind of hard to get the pipeline to Hawaii, so we can forgive Hawaii. Iowa must be pushing that ethanol thing.
Fill Your CNG tank at Home?
It seems as part of Honda's marketing of the Civic NGV was to include a home CNG filling station. This was to help get around the fact that filling stations are not available in every city. The stations is called "Phill", and it is simply a Natural Gas compression system that takes gas from the existing pipeline and compresses to fill your vehicle's CNG tank. I have not been able to find much information about Phill, except that it is/was made by FuelMaker Corp (a Canadian Company in Toronto (partnered with Honda) that has since filed for bankruptcy. The CNG home stations now appear to be produced by an Italian Company (BRC fuelmaker). I have seen the price of the units reported anywhere between $995 to $4,000 each. One source reported the unit was good for pumping 3,000 GGEs (about 6,000 hours) before the unit would need to be refurbished. My first thought was this would be a noisy and expensive bugger to have running all night long in the garage, but the noise level was reported to be 40 decibels at 5 meters (40 db is described as a quiet library). The 220 volt unit is supposed to use about 700 watts per hour. The pump was reported to add about 10 miles of range to a tank for every hour. We definitely need more information about this option. There is also a lot of chatter around the internet asking questions about the use of spare tanks that can transfer CNG to the main tank and extend range. There are some questions about the legality of carrying spare CNG tanks, but more information is needed about this.
Natural Gas Vehicles - US Department of Energy