CNG Civic Named Green Car Of The Year

By Danny King November 18, 2011

Civic Nat Gas GCotY lede.jpg

The Honda Civic Natural Gas was named the 2012 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal at the Los Angeles Auto Show Thursday (above), beating out electric vehicles Mitsubishi i (known abroad as the i-MiEV) and the Ford Focus Electric as well as the Toyota Prius V hybrid wagon and Volkswagen's diesel-powered Passat TDI. The CNG-powered Civic, formerly known as the Civic GX, is the third different type of alternative-powered vehicle to win the award in three years, following General Motors' Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid last year and the Audi A3 Diesel the year before.

The award marks a victory for a company that remains the only automaker building factory produced natural-gas cars for the U.S. market. While clean-technology research firm Pike Research estimated in September that just 8,400 CNG-powered vehicles will be sold in the U.S. next year, some in the fuel and auto industry say that growing concerns about carbon emissions and energy security may be a springboard for broader CNG-vehicle production for both fleets and individual owners. Pike Research said such sales may quadruple over the next four years. As a fuel, CNG burns cleaner than gasoline and ethanol, resulting in lower greenhouse-gas emissions. It is also much cheaper than gasoline and reduces periodic engine maintenance, because it doesn't contain the impurities that leave deposits in a gasoline engine.

Honda, which increased the CNG model's fuel economy for the 2012 by about 11 percent, said it would expand both the production and dealer network for the sedan for the 2012 model year, as the Japanese automaker looks to boost sales of the model. Honda will broaden its distribution network to 35 states from just four, and will double its annual production to about 2,000 vehicles, Honda spokesman Jessica Fini told AutoObserver in October. The Civic GX earlier this year was crowned the greenest vehicle sold in the U.S. for the eighth consecutive year by the non-profit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), beating out both the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle and the Volt plug-in hybrid. Honda stopped production of the 2011 Civic GX in March and sold out of the vehicle in June, according to Fini.

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