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USA: State Governors Ask For Natural-Gas Cars, Industry Listens

Last week, governors of more than 20 states joined together to ask the auto industry for a specific kind of car: a mid-size sedan powered by natural gas, rather than gasoline.

This week, the industry responded, with auto-company representatives gathering in Oklahoma City to discuss the request with Governor Mary Fallin, a member of the governors’ group.

Fourteen of the governors signed a memorandum of understanding to support the effort, but as of this week, an additional eight states have signed onto a collective Request For Proposal (RFP) to buy the natural-gas sedans for use in state fleets.

Today, while there are several heavy-duty trucks that can run on natural gas, there’s only a single passenger vehicle: the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas.

It’s built in Ohio, and has been for a decade, but sales have averaged 2,000 units a year or less.

The governors hope that the combined sizes of their state vehicle fleets–many thousands of vehicles–may be enough to persuade a carmaker, preferably one of the Detroit Three, to design and sell a car they could use to replace gasoline-powered vehicles.

The 20 states, including Colorado and Oklahoma, are those where natural gas is produced.

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas
There are roughly 1,000 natural-gas fueling stations nationally, against about 120,000 gasoline stations, meaning that natural-gas vehicles may require detours to fill up.

But the allure of a locally produced fuel–contributing to jobs, lower emissions, energy security, and reducing the national trade deficit–is a powerful one, and the governors urged the auto industry to take natural gas as seriously as gasoline, diesel, and plug-in cars.


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