American Honda Motor Co. is hoping to entice customers to buy its compressed natural gas-powered Honda Civic by offering a $3,000 fuel card to buyers. Honda’s sales strategy comes as gasoline prices remain high in the United States, while alternative fuels like compressed natural gas, or CNG, are much cheaper. Buyers of the Civic CNG will receive a fuel card loaded with $3,000 that could be used to purchase compressed natural gas at public refueling stations owned by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. Currently, the Civic is the only compressed natural gas-powered vehicle available for sale to consumers in the US. Honda’s latest offer could be very tempting to the riding consumers in California, where the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is around $4.67, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The prices of gasoline products in California soared after refineries experienced disruptions at a time when supplies are already low due to seasonal shift to new blends. In contrast, the national average for an equivalent gallon of compressed natural gas was just $2.05 in July, American Honda said, citing the most recent figures available from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Consumers have more reason to buy the Honda Civic CNG aside from low fuel costs, since the car is eligible for carpool-lane access in California, allowing them to avoid the clogged highways of greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Having a starting price of just around $27,000, the Civic CNG offers a driving range of up to 200 miles and refueling time of a few minutes. Proponents of compressed natural gas say that these attributes of Civic CNG, as well as the low price of compressed natural gas, give the vehicle an advantage over electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, whose qualities include limited range, high cost and extended recharging time.