Rising gas prices couldn’t be better for Honda. The company’s green machine, the Civic GX, is enjoying massive success as the only compressed natural gas (CNG) model on the market in the United States. Honda is expected to sell out of its current model this summer, as it revs up to release a newer version in the fall.
Increasingly, U.S. consumers are looking for alternatives to even hybrid cars, with ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa giving oil a bad name. CNG is traditionally used in trucks and public transportation, but is coming to the fore with attractive fill-up rates of about $2.25 a gallon at the pump, and even cheaper with a pump installed at home. The perks offered in California, like using the carpool lane until 2015, also make the vehicle an enticing option for serious commuters.
Honda has the entire share of the U.S. market for CNG passenger cars, but General Motors and Ford both do business in CNG for their more robust trucking and cargo van businesses. Ford’s chief executive Alan Mulally points to CNG’s space-intensive design as the reason the company hasn’t looked more seriously into the passenger car market. "For big trucks going back and forth across the U.S. it makes a lot of sense, but it is tough to package for autos," Mulally told the Los Angeles Times.