Why no Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle for Australia?

A reader has tipped us off that Honda may be developing a dedicated natural gas fueled hybrid for display at the 2008 Tokyo International Motor Show. While we’ve been unable to substantiate this information it does raise a question that has been in the back of our minds for some time. Why don’t Honda sell their natural gas powered Civic GX in Australia?

The Civic GX is available in the US and various Asian countries where natural gas is an accepted vehicle fuel. This year the GX has once again topped the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) annual Greenest Cars list beating 4 petrol/electric hybrids including the Civic and Prius hybrids that we get here in Australia.

Civic GX NGV (US model)

What about refueling you ask? GX buyers have the option of purchasing a Phill home refueling system. Obviously the lack of CNG refueling limits long distance driving but with the Phill there are no such limitations for fleet use or doing the daily drive to and from work and down to the shops. If you’ve got natural gas piped to your home you’ll never have to go to a service station again. You just plug it in over night and the tank fills up while you sleep.

With Australia’s massive natural gas reserves and ready availability in capital cities and the larger towns you’d think the GX would be a nice seller for Honda Australia. What are your thoughts? Would you like the Civic GX to be available in Australia?

Thanks to Troy for the tip on the Honda NG hybrid.

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39 Responses

  1. as long as oil company can suck blood out of us in Oz (AUD $1.43 today per litre 23/12/07) why should sell lpg?

    • What you must realise is that it is not fuel companies but governments that do not want natural gas vehicles imported or produced. It is all based on revenue loss. They want either fossil fuel or LPG used as it is highly regulated and taxed (including LPG). If everyone used natural gas vehicles they would lose a large revenue base. They would prefer you to use LPG. LPG is mostly made up of methane which is natural gas. So no politician will drive this as big business and government will lose out. No more free lunches and party donations. Just use LPG and pay the tax.

      • Rob,….
        For the most part but not exclusively LPG comes from the cracking of a barrel of oil. To the best of my knowledge and brief research, it is made up of propane and butane in varying quantities. To say LPG is made up of methane which is natural gas is not entiely true, but a hydrocarbon none the less. It is a byproduct in the cracking process of a barrel of oil. Until recently (until a commercial value was apprent) LPG used to be discarded (Burnt off) as a waste product. A crying shame I know. I feel you are right in that if government were serious about reducing our dependance on foreign oil, they would embrace natural gas as a motor vehicle fuel source in Australia. Lets face it,…..Australia has an ENORMOUS supply!,…….first step for Kevin Rudd,……tax free natural gas for all Aussies indefinitly. It is only cost effectiveness (eg. cheaper to use this alternative) that will change things for the better. Lets start with a cleaner Aussie fuel. K.Rudd is keen to play with the big boys at Kyoto and Copenhagen,……and commit Australia to questionably restrictive economic criteria . Lets use our own fuel and create jobs and a cleaner enviromnent here in Oz. Secondly,…..K.Rudd is so keen to hand out grants for insulation, or simply $900 cash because you’re a nice bloke,………how about some incentives to convert to CNG (Compressed Nautal Gas) to clean up our air while creating a few Aussie jobs. BUT!!!!!! You are SO! RIGHT,……….there is a direct link to the fuel excise and GST revenue the government gets on all automotive fuels for ON ROAD use, to the tune of 10’s of BILLIONS of dollars. So tell me again why a government would want to change that? Thank you so much for your comments,……..tax free fuel for all! Regards, Brett

  2. My point here is that with natural gas most Australians who live in larger cites, and lets face it that is most of us, have ready access to natural gas as it is piped to our houses. The distribution network is in place and there is nothing the oil companies can do about it. This is so simple and so much cleaner that I can’t understand why car manufacturers aren’t importing CNG vehicles. What am I missing? Is it an ADR compliance issue?

    Luke

  3. How about directing the question to Honda Sales Australia and asking whether it is their decision or non approval by the Aus Government.

  4. Every time I approach Honda I either get no response or am referred to my nearest dealer. One day I will find time to track down someone who can answer the question.

    If you have any information or contacts Gordon please send them via my Contact page.

    Luke

  5. People are beginning to wake up to global warming, we only have four or five years before the whole world will be in serious, irreversible trouble. We should all be trying our hardest to become greener and buying a natural gas car is a great way to do our part. I can’t understand why the Honda Civic GX NGV is not available in Australia. I hope to God that it is not a money or power related reason, there won’t be money, power or petroleum companies if the world as we know it comes to an end.
    On another note, for those who wish to protect our planet, switching to a vegetarian diet will cut down your carbon contribution by 75%, a meat eater who only rides a bicycle contributes more carbon emissions than a vegetarian driving a hybrid car…please help, at least stop eating beef.

  6. Amen to all that. Why are people not marching in the streets and writing to the papers about this? What about the Ford vehicle designed for Nartural Gas? What happened to that? Does everyone know that Natural Gas gives 62% of the CO2 produced by pertrol, and that it costs the equivalent of 37 cents per litre of petrol? Someone should import a GX NGV and see if the Labor government will sue them.

  7. hi
    i have tried for 2 years now to import a civic gx from japan.there is a few of them around with very low km
    if you want a second hand one .i wrote twice to dotars or transport department in camberra, to the australian customs, not their problem.i wrote to my local mp wayne swan : no answer, i guess he cannot do 2 jobs at once .I wrote to the head of honda australia in sydney ( mr Lindsey x) they need to sale at least 500 of those a months to justified a import excercise.The federal gov here could help like in california.( eg: tax rebate for using low polluting vehicule less than 100gr of cO2/km) .
    if you bring now a civic gx from japan with no compliance plates, the australian customs will destroy it within a week ( from their letter).
    the only way around is to go and live in japan for at least 12 months buy a civic gx and bring it here as a personnal item.then this is legal ,told me the customs.
    the canadian made refuelling station Phill is currently being tested somewhere by some business in victoria.they refuse to decline their name as if it was a military secret…but i understand there is no law stoping you to buy it directly from canada ( Home refuelling ltd Toronto)

  8. Denis your a champ but as you’ve discovered your facing an uphill battle. The only way forward I see from the comments above is to convince the head of Honda Australia that the demand is here now. How much in your estimate would it cost to import the Honda? (ball park figure) Also what is the cost of the Phill? If the combined cost was under A$30K it would be a compelling deal. Should people who are interested email Honda Australia to give them the message?

  9. santos at their agmsaid they have enough coal seam gas to supply the eastern states mkt for 100 years origan are reported to have even more. what problems using this for cars apart from pricing

  10. Perhaps it would be easier to switch this topic to compressed air engines such as Renault or Altairnano advanced nano battery technology for powering cars. It is difficult for a government to run interference on the supply of electricity or compressed air, and a lot easier to access.

    Obviously with gas reticulation the government can not differentiate between its non taxable (excise) use in residential and commercial premises and its taxable (excise) use in motor vehicles. If natural gas is pumped into the vehicle at home, by Phil, the government looses fuel excise. So don’t expect any thing but resistance from government both directly and indirectly.

    Mr Rudd, despite the rhetoric, is not too concerned about CO2 or climate change as his Global Change? warming Adviser Prof. Garnaut is a professor of economics not an atmospheric scientist. I wonder if he would get an electrician in, if his toilet blocked up? The government is more concerned about making a fast buck out of carbon credits than any other motive. Note, he has also dropped the government subsidy on solar power panels for connection to the grid.

  11. Hi all, I´m writing from Germany and can tell you that we have the same problems with the Civic GX NGV here in Germany. I also asked my lokal dealer about buying a GX but he told me that this would not be possible because the GX was only introduced to the US and some Asian markets.
    I don´t know what the Honda guys think but they would be able to sell this car here because actual we have no car which could be compared with the GX.
    Yesterday I sent a letter to the German Honda Headquarter and a special Honda department for research and developement for Europe. I´m looking forward for their answers. Maybe we have to push the international inquiry to show them that this car can be sold worldwide !

  12. Now with the price of petrol, this vehicle is perfect. In Canberra, as far as I know, new Renault buses run on compressed natural gas (http://www.action.act.gov.au/about.cfm). I think many old politicians in Canberra need to Google more.

  13. […] Why no Honad Civic GX natural gas vehicle for Australia…  […]

  14. I think the issue goes into all of these..the ADRs, the old school diesel class, an outdated lobby system which has oil giants prescribing excise policy for Australians. The house is beginning to come to order…look at the most recent publishing of Australian Government, Martin Ferguson being frank on the need for Australia to take domestic energy needs more seriously.

    The OEMs need to be clear on there intent and leading energy and emissions standards are available in excess of the Australian mark, so yes, it is time for government to be proactive in inviting and even insisting on manufacturer support and the import and local manufacture of what we require today. It cant come down to vested interest decision making as that would be a recipe for an energy security downturn.

    And yes, buses of many makes have been doing CNG easily and cleanly for decades so Australia is not that far behind in the race.

    I have outlined some of the core issues of recent history which might benefit from being ironed out….perhaps the new broom can sweep the industry clean.

    CNG Refueling: The Natural Gas Story in Australia:
    http://rosettamoon.copley.org.au/?p=138

  15. I think the reality is, excise is the problem. Rudd and minsiters are waving their arms, nothing we can do, well we could import natural powered gas cars and oil prices would not affect us. Is pity government is so intrenched in looking after big business including big government spending and big government departments, rather than community best interest

  16. It’s a Rudd Wong corruption issue, that’s why Australians are denied natgas cars, they’ve been using them for years o/seas and in California you get discounts on home heating, bus lane access and free parking if you use a natgas car. Rudd and Wong are locked into Howard’s payola from big oil and coal co’s and even though we have unlimited supply of cheaper cleaner natgas vehicles. Brisbane buses run on it for last ten years! There are 750+natgas service stations in China and none in Australia because Rudd sells our gas to them and robs us environmentally and financially at the petrol bowser. This man is not the real deal he is just another bought and paid for harlot of bigoil!

  17. Sorry but am i missing something. What is the difference between lpg and cng as far as the vehcle conversion is concerned Why is everyone focusing on bringing in a Honda CNG when all you need to do is convert an existing car to CNG like what happens everyday with lpg. I know that the cng requres a heavier and bigger tank but apart from tweaking the inlet to cope with the leaner cng there is not much differenence. There are lots of buses running cng in Asutralia already so forget about Honda and just do it.

  18. C’mon folks – there is no oil conspiracy here. Oil companies have no influence over where Honda sells their cars. In fact, Honda (and other car companies) and mad at the oil companies for the high prices – if you haven’t looked recently, the high prices are killing car sales worldwide.
    And as for global warming, LPG may give off less pollutants, but you need more of it to get the same distance as petrol. Some of you may be in the “we are all doomed” club, but you need to look beyond the hype and look at the actual facts before thinking coal and oil are going to be the death of us all.

    Finally – the idea of filling up at home with LPG is a good one, but it has a lot more complications than you may think. There are reasons why you need special training and certifications to install LPG appliances in your house. Do you trust the drunk uni kids and old forgetful old-age pensioners are not going to turn their houses into mini-Hindenburgs? Even at Petrol Stations that sell LPG, you will see a lot more warning signs than the normal bowser.

    So – bottom line is this. Honda is not selling them here because there is no money to be made. Someone in Honda will have to tell you why they came to that conclusion, but forget blaming oil companies (who buy the way sell you petrol at much lower prices than Coca Cola sells you Coke).
    Not to mention Coke is found in factories in most capital cities, not in the remote jungles and deserts of the world!

  19. @Iain
    I agree with your thoughts on an oil conspiracy but I believe the remainder of your comments are worthy of rebuttal.

    Car manufacturers have access to the same information on increasing fuel prices as everyone else. Any car manufacturer with an ounce of foresight would have known that more economical vehicles will be favoured now that oil supplies are not meeting demand and fuel prices are increasing. The fact that Honda does produce cars that are more economical than most means they have an advantage even if the global trend in car sales is downwards.

    This conversation is about CNG vehicles. It is specifically about the Civic GX because it has been voted the greenest car you can buy in the US for years on end despite all the hype surrounding the Prius. In the countries in which Honda sell this car you can buy the Phill as a Honda accessory. That tells me that any safety issues with home refuelling have been engineered out of the system. There is no accounting for stupidity but surely Honda wouldn’t be putting their name to a dangerous device in the US market.

    With the current price of fuel I would suggest to that there would be quite a good market here for the Civic GX. Certainly a better market than there is for the currently available Civic Hybrid. There must be some other reason why we can’t buy a Civic GX or a VW Caddy or any other CNG vehicle you can buy in other parts of the world straight off the showroom floor. As suggested by Jon (e-mail) it might have a lot to do with the fact that the Government can’t tax what is commonly understood in Australia as a fuel for heating and cooking. Well, they could tax it but can you imagine the backlash?

    I’ve no problem with the price of petrol as higher prices will force us lazy Australians to do a bit of thinking about how we live our lives through our cars and what the alternatives might be. One of those alternatives is CNG and when it is piped to the vast majority of houses in our cities (not mine unfortunately) it is a no brainer as a vehicle fuel. We’re just going to have to push harder to make it known and accessible to the average Australian. If we don’t the rest of the world (think India and China) will take all our CNG/LNG and we’ll be left wondering what might have been.

    Luke

  20. The idea of filling up with lpg is dangerous! Its propane and butane and volatile, and also heavier than air. There is no question of this, you are refering to Phil Home CNG Refueler to slow fill at home utilising a natural gas network connection. Convenient I guess bus has added costs but is definitely smarter than refilling at home from lpg which would be unlikely. The fuel thing is no conspiracy its an evolution of transport which is now at a point where liquid fossil fuels dont make as much sense as gas, natural gas….of course there is resistant in some places but its simply a trend which also has environment benefits.

    Its about adopting a fuel strategy which makes long term sense by understanding the properties of the fuels which we are talking about and the technology changes which will enable them…its not rocket science its just stone age man inching forward again.

  21. There definately is an oil conspiracy against alternative fuels in Australia and has been for 50 years.

    To illustrate this, I often discuss CNG with people, and recently an older gent in the course of conversation stated that he was a retired CNG mechanic – whoi was fitting CNG kits to cars in 1970 – 38 years ago.

    He claims that his business was shut down by people from the government on behalf of the oil industry. Despite CNG being much cheaper than petrol in 1970 – he was told that government was ‘not interested’ in CNG and that he had to close down.

  22. Very nice article. My English is not so good, so I do not understandt it well, but it seems very good. Thanks

  23. How can we make Honda Civic Gx available in Australia? There are many advantages that Honda Gx has over Prius. I live 10k from work and ride bicycle to work every day, 5 days a week. I can reach 20k radius with my muscle power. I need a car to go shopping weekly, go to the coast (300k) 2 or 3 times a year, towing a trailer to take the garden waste to the tip. I can park Honda Gx at home for weekdays without worrying about if the battery quality will deteriorate. Prius is a lot more expensive. It still uses petrol. If the petrol’s price is double. Prius makes no different. Prius does not have any gear making it unsuitable for hard work like towing a heavy trailer. Maybe I need two cars. So to me, Prius is almost useless.

    May I need a good second hand car and convert it to LPG without listening to people telling that it will ruin the engine.

  24. I currently drive a Mercedes Benz that is running on LPG only.
    It is fantastic. My car still goes like a rocket. My engine runs cleaner and my fuel bill is not a concern for me.

    I’m looking at getting a dual fuel modification done to it later so that it can run on CNG (so I end up with CNG and LPG).

    Apparently, the conversion process is not difficult.
    I got my Mercedes converted to LPG by Big-Toys in Rydalmere, Sydney.
    http://www.big-toys.net
    They were the only LPG/CNG installer who I researched that could convert my Mercedes to LPG and yes, they do CNG as well.
    Big-Toys also convert Diesel engines to run on LPG or CNG.

    Other LPG installers said that they could not do Mercedes because they can’t get a kit or some other lame excuse. In other words these other installers were LAZY, STUPID or BOTH. Those other installers could not do CNG either.

    Buggered if I could be bothered waiting for Honda.
    Honda will have to train their mechanics and that costs money and it means that management have to do more work to organise things.
    In fact, I don’t give a rats about what big corporate say these days.

    I don’t let excuses get in my way when I want something. To me, an excuse is just a cover up for laziness.

    When I decide to get my car converted to CNG, I will be getting Big-Toys to perform my conversion.

  25. I recently investigated the Volkswagen Caddy Life, which is a superbly designed family vehicle. They sell petrol and turbo diesel models, but in Europe they also sell a CNG model, which is really well designed with the tanks underneath. Can you get it in Australia? No way. It’s so ridiculous. Does the government care?

  26. I am a little bored of the ‘energy’ and ‘efficiency’ and “emissions trading’ and ‘climate change’ and all the other media guff…I know what the solution is and I am prepared to publish it, but its so far removed from the petty interests of “this fuel or that fuel” or “this car or that car” or “this scheme or that scheme”…are Australians so blinded by the direction they are led by the media that they cant see the real solution? It saddens me as I scan the media to see the effects of how narrow minded we have become and how far removed from the cause of the problems we face…I am an economist and transport policy reform advocate but I am a bit concerned that we are so blinded by the TV and print media that we have become polarised on issues of fuel type, engine type, blah blah, I have drafted the next issue which I believe need to be reflected upon and acted upon but nothing I have read in the news or government releases comes close to the core issue, which by the way has such geometric simplicity beyond fuel or alternatives, it really makes one wonder if the human race has any future and whether there is any purpose or any future in this debate, discussion, or whatever you may like to call it. Is any one here really interested in the core solution? If they are I may consider finishing my latest contribution, if the discussion continues in such a narrow direction, we may as well all pack up our bags and prepare gracefully for planetary dis-integration…which seem to be the modus operandi, purpose, and direction of the mainstream media..if 5 readers respond YES, to sustainable life on the planet, I will provide the next clue, if not, this whole debate will self destruct in …5 seconds… ncarney@swiftCNG.com

  27. OK Nigel, it seems all this stuff is getting you down so I’ll bite and maybe you’ll get it off your chest.

    Geometric simplicity… triangles?

    Lots of bicycles? Human power?

  28. Where can you buy a “fill at home CNG” filling unit ?

  29. In Thailand the government is promoting CNG over LPG for safety reason as well as costing. The Government increase the LPG price, not the CNG.
    The Thai government use National Petroleum company PTT http://pttweb2.pttplc.com/webngv/cu_cu.aspx
    unfortunately in Thai, but you can see the picture, how serious the Thai are on CNG or NGV , called in Thailand.

    Australian Labour Government
    has 2 choices.
    1. Still being accused of being corrupted by allowing the big oil company to extract money from the Australian.
    0r 2.
    Making a real move to start CNG or NGV now.
    1. Give intensive to big oil company to install NGV stations. and let them have some profit out of the projects. The Gov. can tax us the same way they tax LPG.
    2. can pass a regulation and tax by the Kilometres of Converted cars or charge extra tax on the Natural gas usage of the particular house if you install the Phel.

    The Labour betrayed the election promise to Victorian and allow Eastlink to be ETAGed.

    Will they betray the “Green house gas ideology” and let the big oil company decide on our fuel system?

    I did not vote for labour because of “Eastlink betray”, and will not vote for them ever if they don’t be more honest on the environment.

  30. Natural gas is clearly an obvious short-term, effective solution. I would install the conversion and the domestic compressor tomorrow if these were economically available.

    The hypocrisy of Govt’s and big oil who pay lip service to greenhouse issues is appalling!!!!!!

  31. Very close Luke…a jolly good stab in the dark in fact!

    I just published an Integrated Transport Plan, hinged on Natural Gas, as a starting point….that would be nice…to see a plan mentioned in Australia…a simple plan…oh yes the ‘Yes Minister’ connections are laughable!

    The next article is on “Central Place theory’ the only economics in this day and age that makes any sense but seems to have evaded our government economists and policy makers.

    At a high level, and yes bikes and human energy are central to such, managing economics in an economic fashion is something which has gone by the wayside, so do standby for the next edition.

    http://news.rosettamoon.com/

    And yes Win, you are on trek, budgetary economics can work for the government if they choose to dis-entangle finally from big oil which is also big plastics and big agriculture…

    Nigel

  32. […] Envirofuel – Promoting sustainable mobility […]

  33. I just called Honda and asked to speak with Yasuhi Masuno who is the CEO/MD of Honda Australia. Of course investor relations intercepted. I was told that they are not planning or advising of any timeline for importing the Natural Gas Vehicle. I have also sent this link to this webpage to Kerry O’Brien at the ABC who I know is an advocate of change as well. I reckon a guerilla campaign can turn the tide.

  34. WHY WHY WHY mr Rudd
    do you give rebates by the $ millions for :

    new natural gas hot water systems
    new natural gas heater
    solar hot water systems
    solar photo voltaic panels ( $ 8000)
    rebates for lpg car transformation
    rebates for this rebates for that …
    and when i want to import a modern natural gas car to Australia ( not a racing car, and not a petrol gusler dynosaure)
    with No rebate, paying import duty, helping the global warming ,my town polution , your target for the Kyoto protocol , and using cheap australian extracted fuel, you say NO…??

  35. Do our regulators have no imagination, knowledge or forsight ? Or are they puppets of the popular opinion of social circles in which they move – especially circles that include fossil fuel rich influential friends ?
    How hard is it for them to “google it” these days and check their ideas and facts ?
    There are a number of really good reasons presented in this piece for the promotion of CNG as a fuel in Australia.
    One of the BEST ones that hasn’t been mentioned so far is “Today any vehicle that has an engine capable of burning natural gas can burn hydrogen with a few optimizing adjustments.” (http://www.clean-air.org/conversion_kit_response.htm)
    We have been looking for a cheap way for years to move to a super clean Hydrogen fueled economy and CNG as a fuel is a simple and cheap stepping stone to that dream. For example Malmo are already mixing Hydrogen with CNG to run their public transport buses in Sweden – it is produced cleanly by Hydrolysis of water using electricity from wind power stations.
    Why use CNG as a stepping stone to Hydrogen ? Because Hydrogen is the cleanest and most abundant fuel we have available. It’s the ideal fuel. Two thirds of the earth is covered by water, it is easy to split into Hydrogen and Oxygen … and when burned with Oxygen (or fed into a fuel cell) turns back into water.
    Why is it taking so long to happen ? Because of the perception that it will be hard to make money out of and the propaganda that you need to crack expensive fossil fuels to produce Hydrogen cost effectively.

  36. Just google CNG installers or conversions or whatever. SprintGas (one of the larger LPG kit manufacturers) make a CNG kit. I came across a NSW RTA pdf that outlined the regulations regarding CNG vehicles and a number to call to find an installer. I don’t think it’s as diffucult as you seem to think. I’ve got a biogas generator I made out in the shed pumping out more gas than I can use. I can scrub it back to around 94% methane and compress it into a tank. As soon as I can get my grubby little hands on one of those refueling stations (and get a car that I would be willing to outlay the conversion cost for) I’ll be off the grid. YeeHa MF.

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