Monday, July 9, 2007

The Car That Could Displace the Toyoto Prius

From CNN: Natural-gas guzzler

The new natural-gas-powered Honda Civic GX uses domestically produced fuel -- the same stuff your gas stove burns -- that costs as little as one third the price of gasoline. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy calls it the cleanest-burning internal-combustion vehicle on Earth.


But the recent release of the Phill home-refueling station, manufactured by Toronto-based FuelMaker, changes things. Now people who have the station installed at their house can refuel the GX overnight, since the system taps into natural-gas lines.

There are many potential benefits to using natural gas: It's the cleanest-burning fuel available, with virtually zero emissions; it's a domestic fuel source; and, when using the home station, fuel costs drop to approximately $1.30 per gallon.

FuelMaker, which developed the home-refueling system with support from Honda, provided a Phill unit for our year-long test and installed it at automotive editor Eric Adams's residence in New Jersey. Honda provided the Civic GX.

Although the retail cost of Phill is roughly $4,000, the final cost to consumers can be significantly lower, because (depending on where you live) state and federal tax credits can offset or even completely cover the initial purchase price.

Similar tax credits can offset the incremental cost of the natural-gas technology in the Civic, bringing the $24,000 purchase price -- again, depending on your state -- down to below that of the entry-level Civic's $16,000 sticker.