At the end of last week, gasoline prices at some California stations hit $5. By today, the average price for gas in California was $4.67 compared to the national average of around $3.80.
And still, the average retail price for natural gas in Southern California is $2.04. Many California residents are likely wishing they could take advantage of that discount.
Gasoline prices elsewhere in the United States aren’t exactly cheap, either. Prices have been bouncing up and down, grazing ever closer to $4, while natural gas remains tantalizingly inexpensive.
For Honda (NYSE: HMC), this spells opportunity. Honda’s Civic Natural Gas remains the only natural gas-powered sedan on the market, last year receiving the Green Car of the Year award in Green Car Journal.
But the company isn’t sitting back and waiting for sales to pick up. This week, Honda announced that it would provide any customer purchasing a 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas with a $3,000 debit card toward CNG at any Clean Energy Fuels Inc. (NASDAQ: CLNE) station.
That gas credit would bring customers closer to recouping the cost. The natural gas civic, which is loaded up with features, is comparable to the gasoline-powered Civic EX. Starting at $26,305, it costs about $5,650 more than the gasoline vehicle.
Of course, the debit card can only be used at Clean Energy filling stations. But Clean Energy already has 40 filling stations in Southern California and 160 across the country, and it’s currently involved in a nationwide effort to expand the number of natural gas filling stations by the end of 2013.
From the LA Times:
“The signs are pointing toward increased market acceptance of this type of alternative fuel vehicle,” said Angie Nucci, a Honda spokeswoman. “The $3,000 CNG fuel card could be a tipping point for more consumer consideration.”
If you’re interested in purchasing the vehicle with the fuel credit, you should make your decision by the holidays. The deal ends on January 2.
But not all Honda dealers offer the natural gas Civic, so check around. The car is only sold at 199 dealers across 36 states.
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And it also offers some additional perks. In California, single drivers in natural gas-powered vehicles can use the carpool lanes due to the reduced carbon emissions of natural gas.
According to the EPA, using natural gas instead of gasoline reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 90% to 97% and carbon dioxide emissions by 25%.
“With a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 31 mpg and a fuel cost savings of up to 40% compared to a typical gasoline-powered compact car, the Civic Natural Gas Vehicle can significantly reduce the pain at the pump,” Honda said on Tuesday.
Honda expects to roll out a 2013 model of the car soon, and it currently has 1,500 2012 models at its 199 dealerships across the country.
This move, along with the climbing prices of gasoline – particularly on the West coast – are likely to provide a good sales boost.
That’s all for now,
Energy & Capital’s modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends.