When you write an editorial the world may forgive you for fuzzy math to make a point in favor of compressed natural gas over hybrid and electric vehicles.
At least that may be the assumption made by the blog post published by Automotive News today simply headlined:
“The 102 mpg Honda Civic”
Sure grabs your attention, doesn’t it? Yes, and that’s the point.
So how did everyone miss the announcement of an internal combustion Civic that returns 102 mpg? They didn’t but that’s why it took a blog post to explain the present cost differential in favor of compressed natural gas over gasoline.
Actually, the 2012 Civic Natural Gas is rated by the EPA at 27 city/38 highway and 31 combined miles per gallon equivalent, but we can’t let facts get in the way of a good point can we?
In any case, the post touts that and other perceived advantages of the limited-availability Civic Natural Gas, while taking a poke at other green cars.
“Every automaker is hyping fuel economy numbers on their electric or hybrid vehicles, some more fast and loose than others,” wrote the West Coast editor for Automotive News. “So I figure I have some leeway when I say I got 102 miles per gallon from a 2012 Honda Civic. Before you fire up your snarky e-mail blasts, let me explain the math, and hope you understand that my calculations are truly based in reality.”
What is the “reality?”
After praising ease of installing fuel, negligible emissions, solo HOV lane access in California, and respectable performance offered by the Civic CNG, the writer says filling up about a half of its tank cost about the same as one gallon of premium gas in Southern California, or about $4.63.
“Imagine my surprise when all it took to fill the half-empty tank was pocket change of $4.63. That’s the cost of one gallon of super unleaded gasoline in these parts,” he wrote. “So, instead of looking at the Civic CNG in terms of miles per gallon, I equated it to miles per dollar. I got 102 miles of driving from the same amount of money I would have spent on a gallon of gas. To me, that makes 102 miles per gallon.”
Sort of makes sense right? And best of all, the opinion piece says, “the Civic CNG is not some outrageously priced techno-wonder only available to the 1 percent. Its sticker price, with destination charges, is $27,095. With a range of 220 miles, and plenty of places to fill up, there’s no range anxiety like you get with electric vehicles. Plus you still get access to the carpool lane. And to silence your neighborhood jingoist, it’s made in Indiana.”
Points taken, but is this a pitch really made for those in favor of the 99 percent? What’s more, hybrids like the Prius c start at around $19,000, EVs like the Nissan Leaf start at around $35,000 before subsidies, and they offer unique value propositions in their own right.
Also in question is the environmental debate over hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” which will be needed to continue natural gas supplies ad infinitum. Further is the question as to what would happen if the market did switch over to natural gas – would prices for this minority fuel remain as low as they are? Maybe. And maybe not.
To be fair, similar observations have been made about the price of electricity if/when a game-changing battery comes along and a majority switch to powering their vehicles via electricity.
But that’s if hydrogen power does not take over, right?
Or … Oh, never mind. We’ll cut this short saying lots of questions remain. Points could be made in a number of directions.
We’ll say only that it’s at least clear the immediately apparent value proposition offered by CNG is prompting some to cheer it on, and some – particularly in the commercial transportation segment – to switch over.
What do you think? Will you be taking a closer look at the $27,095 “102 mpg Honda Civic?”
Automotive News (Subscription required)