Honda to expand availability of Civic Natural Gas model

Despite promotion for its all-new, more efficient Civic Hybrid, Honda says it will expand U.S. availability of a "green" natural gas version.

Despite promotion for its all-new, more efficient Civic Hybrid, Honda says it will expand U.S. availability of a "green" natural gas version.

The new 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, announced in time for the New York International Auto Show, touts the environmental and cost advantages of a vehicle run exclusively on compressed natural gas, or CNG.

Natural gas is an attractive fuel because it burns cleaner than unleaded gasoline and is abundant in the U.S. It's also roughly 30 percent less costly than gasoline, and in some states such as California, qualifies for special access to high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, "carpool" lanes.

The 2012 model is largely the same as its gasoline-powered brethren, with a few exceptions.

First, of course, is a CNG-version of the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine found in the gas-powered models. Of course, it employs special fuel injectors, intake and exhaust valves, valve seats, reinforced connecting rods and pistons to handle the natural gas.

The compression ratio on the CNG version is different than the gasoline model: 12.7:1, compared to 10.6:1. The vehicle's aluminum-lined fuel tank, rated at 3600 p.s.i., can store the CNG equivalent of 7.8 gallons of gasoline.

In a nice twist, its navigation system includes retail fueling locations for CNG.

The 2012 model manages 27 m.p.g. (equivalent) city and 38 m.p.g. (equivalent) highway, a small boost over last year's model.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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