While nowhere near as cool as the Tesla Roadster, the automotive equivalent of a laser-wielding shark, the Honda Civic natural gas version offers 38 mpg highway/27 city mileage, fuels at about two-thirds the cost of gasoline, and apparently comes with the ability to park on the sidewalk in front of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Downsides include losing most of your trunk storage, commercial fueling stations are few and far between, and at the end of the day, after paying about $7000 more than for a gas version, you’re still driving a Honda Civic.
As for the availability of filling stations, didn’t the PSC just approve a whole bunch of those? Yes and no. What the Commission actually approved was allowing Atlanta Gas Light to use money from the Universal Service Fund, which the PSC administers, to partner with private investors who want to build CNG filling stations. Construction is unlikely to start before late 2012, and location of stations will be determined by the proposals brought forward by private investors. So most stations are likely to be built in Metro Atlanta.
Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, who famously drives a CNG-powered 1999 Honda Civic, says that South Georgia may not have the market for consumer availability of CNG. The bigger market for CNG is likely fleets, like school and transit system bus fleets or garbage trucks. The Georgia Ports Authority has indicated that they might move toward some CNG vehicles.
Also part of the recent PSC ruling was a program that will allow private CNG-vehicle owners to lease a home CNG fueling stations at a subsidized rate.
Here are some gratuitous photos of a Tesla Roadster like the one that Southern Company owns. If anyone from Georgia Power/SoCo is reading this, we’d really like a ride in that Tesla. So we can review it here and talk about alternative fuels, of course.
I’ve also read and heard first-hand accounts of a CNG-fueled 1966 Pontiac GTO that lives in Alabama and makes occasional forays to Atlanta. An old goat like this really ratchets up the cool factor of both CNG and Alabama and has even been driven by a Republican Congressman around Washington, DC. Get me a ride in this, and once I can speak and type again, I’ll probably post here about how freaking cool it is. With a conversion cost of about $4000 plus the underlying awesome car, this appeals to me much more than a CNG Civic. Wonder if anyone’s done a CNG Porsche yet.