Natural-gas powered cars: Who even knows they exist? - USATODAY.com http://usatoday.printthis.clickability.com/pt/cpt?action=cpt&title=Natura...
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5/15/2007 10:31 AM
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Natural-gas powered cars: Who even
knows they exist?
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — Imagine paying as little as $1.25 a gallon to run your car.
Not for gasoline. Instead, you would pump a fuel that's readily available, North American-produced and
virtually pollution-free. Many motorists could even fill up in their own garages every night just like they would
power-up with one of the gas-electric plug-in hybrids still under development.
YOUR THOUGHTS: Would you buy a car that runs on natural gas?
PHOTOS: Powered by natural gas
Now, what if this magical car were available today, and no one cared. Not government officials. Not auto
executives. Not consumers. Not even some environmentalists.
Therein lies the paradox of the natural-gas powered car. Most major automakers offered them in the 1990s,
primarily for government and corporate fleets. Back then, smog was the chief national concern. Yet today,
when natural gas offers a common-sense, immediate and ecological relief valve to the nation's dependence
on foreign oil, only one major automaker still makes a production model — and sales stink.
Only about 1,000 of the more than 300,000 Civic subcompacts that Honda (HMC) sells every year in the
USA are the natural-gas GX version. Most still go to corporate or government fleets. Consumers can buy
them only through select dealers in California and New York.
Some natural-gas proponents quietly seethe. They feel natural gas is being overlooked for cars, pickups
and SUVs at a time when the nation's energy supply is dwindling and gasoline prices stair-step ever
"It's like shouting in the wind sometimes," says Ron Cogan, publisher of the Green Car Journal and a big
believer in natural gas. "It seems crazy we are not exploring more natural-gas vehicles, because the