Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Honda Axes CNG Civic

After selling only 16,000 CNG fueled Civics in the U.S. since 1998, Honda finally pulled the plug on the CNG Civic.  The company will also abandon a gasoline-electric hybrid Civic and plug-in hybrid Accord in favor of a hydrogen-fuel-cell car for 2016 and a full electric vehicle for 2018.  With low oil prices potentially on the horizon for a while, the writing was on the wall.

The Civic was one of the few hopes for widespread CNG adoption for passenger vehicles, but it proved to be a Quixotic venture.  Ultimately, the success of mass market CNG is dependent on adoption by fleet vehicles and commercial trucks and the infrastructure that will follow (larger interstate trucks will likely prefer LNG, which is inappropriate for passenger vehicles).  Although, even if almost every delivery truck on the road is fueled by CNG, it doesn't mean the corner Chevron station will have it.

In my opinion, CNG will always be a niche fuel in the passenger market, as electric hybrids and other technologies offer more fueling flexibility.

Hydrogen-fuel-cell technology sounds exciting, but it's sort of curious for a company that cited a lack of natural gas fueling infrastructure as a reason to kill the CNG vehicle.  There is currently no real fueling infrastructure for the cars in the U.S., although Honda recently invested $14 million for stations in California and both Toyota and Hyundai are developing hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles.  Still, there will be a similar chicken-and-egg proposition that ultimately led to the demise of the CNG Civic.

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