Big Natural Gas Talk At L.A. Auto Show

Natural Gas Tank In Trunk  (Photo By:  Bob Schuman)

The 2012 Honda Civic powered by natural gas has been named the 2012 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. One auto industry executive said quote: “Natural gas powered cars is the biggest secret in the industry.” Well let me tell you, he couldn’t have been more wrong. As you’ll learn as you read on, natural gas powered cars are anything but a secret in Argentina!

Travel is always a broadening experience. We learn something new on every trip. And in Buenos Aires we were surprised to find that just about every car including taxis ran on natural gas as opposed to petrol.

The compressed natural gas is kept in a cylinder in the trunk of the car. It’s installed with safety in mind so that if the vehicle is rear ended, the tank won’t blow up. Ironically the cars also have regular gas tanks and can run on petrol, too.

We hired a tour guide to show us around BA and it was interesting one afternoon as we were tooling along in his car. We heard this strange “beeping” sound. He explained that his natural gas tank was just about empty. Without even slowing down or stopping he flipped a switch and we were then running on petrol. Later he would stop and get his natural gas tank refilled.

The primary advantage of using natural gas is the cost. Our driver said natural gas in BA costs one third of regular petrol.

We were also told that natural gas burned cleaner than petrol. About the only disadvantage I could figure out was the physical space the tank took in the trunk.

This year’s 2012 Green Car of the Year at the L.A. Auto Show is the Honda Civic powered by natural gas. It gets 48 mpg on the highway and is the only mass produced natural gas car in America, for now. Even so, Honda only sold about 1,000 of them last year. Until we get more natural gas filling stations driving a natural gas powered car in the U.S. will still be a challenge.

And back to South America for just a moment, here’s one for Ford fans in Metro Detroit. Remember the old Ford Falcon? They are still wildly popular in Buenos Aires and you see them everywhere. We were told that they continued in production down there until something like 1991.

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