American Honda is attempting to get some of its California dealers to help it overcome the catch-22 facing acceptance of its Civic Natural Gas by installing refueling facilities on site.
Steve Center, U.S. vice president for environmental business development said in an interview with Automotive News this week that talks are ongoing with state regulators and he’d like to see facilities in place this year at two or more dealerships to start.
“If the dealer had a fueling station, it would really reduce some of that concern for the customer,” Center told the reporter at Honda’s Torrance, Calif. headquarters. “It’s not our place to create infrastructure, but it’s a chicken-and-egg situation and we’re going to have to nurse that egg along.”
As of Dec. 2010, there were about 1,000 stations and 112,000 natural gas vehicles on the road according to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.
For Honda to meet its annual goal of 4,000-5000 sales for the Indiana-made Civic Natural Gas, Carter said dealership stations could “fill in holes” and at this stage, they are still part of a test case Honda would monitor. Details it would study include how many CNG vehicles it refueled per day with an eye toward proliferating them, if the idea proves successful.
This news follows announcements by Detroit automakers this week to introduce a limited supply of CNG-capable pickup trucks for fleet customers.
The Civic Natural Gas was named 2012 Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show a few months ago. It costs $$2,100 more than the hybrid version at $26,155.