Looking to capitalize on the fact that U.S. regular octane gasoline prices on average are 12.3% higher than one year ago and 86% higher than the nationwide average price of natural gas vehicle (NGV) fuel on a gallon equivalent basis, American Honda has teamed with Clean Energy Fuels Corp., the largest owner of public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations in the United States, to offer a debit card pre-loaded with $3,000. The card can be used at Clean Energy CNG fueling stations around the country with the purchase of a new 2012 Honda Civic NGV.

Gasoline prices have been moving higher nationally over the last year, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which notes that the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline on Wednesday is $3.813, which is up 12.3% from $3.395/gallon one year ago. Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Oregon and Washington currently have average prices above $4/gallon for regular octane, with California’s $4.666/gallon as the highest average price nationally.

According to the most recent Department of Energy, Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price report on fuel prices, the nationwide average price of NGV fuel in July was $2.05 per equivalent gasoline gallon. Honda America noted that an added bonus is that 98% of natural gas consumed in North America is domestically produced.

“With gas prices spiking in California, Civic natural gas vehicles sales at an all time high, and with the public gaining greater awareness of the benefits of using natural gas, we believe this a great time to launch our fuel card promotion with our partner Clean Energy,” said American Honda’s Steve Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office.

Clean Energy’s Peter Grace, senior vice president for sales, added, “For the average driver, the $3,000 Clean Energy fuel card provided by Honda will translate into two to three years of not paying for fuel.”

According to Honda, the 2012 Civic NGV has a combined Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of 31 mpg and a fuel cost savings of up to 40%, compared to a typical gasoline-powered compact car. The carmaker added that the vehicle should be able to cover more than 200 miles on a single tank of fuel — depending on driving conditions and style.

The 2012 Civic NGV has posted record sales since going on sale in October 2011 as a new model, increasing 22% versus the same period a year ago, Honda America said. The vehicle is available at 199 certified Honda CNG dealers in 36 states. In addition to the fuel card savings, Honda touted the fact that customers in California may have the added benefit of single-occupant access to high occupancy vehicle carpool lanes through Jan. 1, 2015.

NGV adoption efforts have been picking up steam in recent weeks. Governors last week fast-tracked efforts to makeover statewide fleets with NGVs, announcing that more than 100 bids were issued in the 22-state effort, with Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Honda all wanting in on the action (see Daily GPI, Oct. 8; Oct. 3). The preliminary results were announced by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at the Governor’s Energy Conference in Oklahoma City. One year ago Fallin and Hickenlooper launched the effort. In August, at the urging of Fallin and Hickenlooper, U.S. auto manufacturers came to Oklahoma to learn more about a request for proposals (RFP) that was launched by the states, all of which want to buy NGVs (see Daily GPI, Aug. 10).

In addition to Oklahoma and Colorado, states supporting the RFP efforts are Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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