At the dedication of its new auto plant in Greensburg, IN, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said it will transfer exclusive production of the world’s only compressed natural gas powered passenger vehicle, the Civic GX, from a Honda plant in Ohio to Honda Manufacturing of Indiana LLC in 2009.

Honda announced plans to build the Greensburg facility in June 2006 and broke ground in March 2007. The plant is a comprehensive production facility that includes metal stamping, plastic injection molding, subassembly and final assembly and other processes that will employ 2,000 workers at full capacity. It sits on a 1,700-acre parcel facing Interstate 74 in Greensburg.

The Civic GX — which was unveiled in 1998 — runs at a gasoline-equivalent of nearly 32 mpg. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the Civic GX as the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle on Earth. Currently, the Civic GX is only sold in California and New York. Honda recently has been touting “Phill,” a home refueling appliance available to owners of natural gas vehicles

General Motors Corp. recently called natural gas an “enticing alternative” to petroleum (see Daily GPI, Aug. 6). Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is expected to display a compressed natural gas Camry Hybrid concept vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which begins Friday (see Daily GPI, Sept 26).

The proliferation of natural gas vehicles is a key part of billionaire T. Boone Pickens’ energy reform plan aimed at reducing U.S. dependency on foreign crude oil, which costs the country $700 billion per year.

Unveiled on July 8 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 13; July 9), the Pickens Plan calls for a number of things to reduce U.S. foreign imports, including using the country’s abundant supply of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Pickens — the largest single investor in a natural gas supplier to heavy vehicle fleets of buses, trash trucks and airport shuttles called Clean Energy — has said that natural gas is the best transportation fuel of all because it’s 90% cleaner than gasoline.

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