An Alternative Fuel Choice?

Last Sunday, at the SASCA autocross, there arrived a noticably bedecked (vinyl-wrapped) 2008 Honda Civic LX.  It was proudly announcing being fueled by natural gas, as an NGV (natural gas vehicle).  Check out the not shy graphics that gained a lot attention at the event.

NGV Civic front 

Kevin, a salesman at Howdy Honda, in Austin, TX, had brought it down.  He’s been a past autocross competitor, but I’m not sure why he wasn’t competing this weekend.  He was definately in “advertising” mode.

NGV Civic rear

I asked Kevin about the details of this NGV Honda Civic.  Price?  It cost a $6000 premium, but (if you live in Austin, anyway), you get that amount back as a rebate from the federal government.  The fuel?  It’s compressed natural gas (CNG).   Where & how is the fuel stored?  It’s in a special, 8 gallon, securly made, very strong tank.  This tank is meant to store the fuel at 3600psi (to keep it in liquid form).  The tank is made with 4 inch (!) reinforced aluminum walls, then tightly wrapped in carbon fiber.  This huge (in physical size, not capacity) tank takes up about 3/4’s of the Civic’s trunk space.  In the picture below, you can see that there is only about 18″ of actual trunk depth/capacity .

NGV Civic trunk 

Kevin said that he currently has customers’ deposits waiting on 7 of these.  Of course, this is without the graphics.  He says these NGV Civics run so cleanly they can remove and/or modify the pollution controls.  I believe he said that it is running without the catalytic converter & has no EGR valve.  He says power, torque, performance and mileage are similar to that of a standard gas-fueled Civic.  With the low capacity tank, you won’t want to stray far from most metropolitan centers.

This is not my “cup of tea”, but it was interesting.  I thought you could gain some new information by learning about NGV’s.  Here at Racing Ready we strive to expose some of that which is innovative.

Dan

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