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Test Driving A Car Powered By Natural Gas

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

david_highfield David Highfield
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Are you tired of rising gasoline prices?

Maybe you’d be interested in a car powered by natural gas. It’s cheaper than gasoline and the cars are now becoming available in our area.

When you’re behind the wheel of the Honda Civic GX, it feels and drives just like a gasoline-powered car.

But as the label on the back tells you, this car is different in one big way. It’s powered by natural gas.

Gary Flannery is from Washington Honda. It’s the first dealership in the Pittsburgh area to sell the car.

“The advantage to this car is that the fuel cost is about half of what gasoline is,” said Flannery.

KDKA-TV’s David Highfield found gasoline selling for $3.44, $3.39 and $3.49.

That’s compared to the prices for an equal amount of natural gas – $1.99, $1.99 and even $1.76. Also, the car gets an average of 31 miles a gallon.

Aside from the price, filling up is a little different with a natural gas-powered car. The gas cap looks different and the instructions at the pump are different, too.

But once you have the handle arrows in the right direction, it’s really pretty simple.

Finding a station to fill up, however, is a little more difficult right now in our area.

The Department of Energy map shows the compressed natural gas stations open to the public.

Waste management has one near Washington, Pa., Giant Eagle has one in Crafton and EQT has one in the Strip District.

You also can get a system installed in your home. But it takes about eight hours to fill up that way, and so far, Honda hasn’t recommended them. Although, Flannery says that could change.

You should also know that there’s less trunk space in the natural gas version of the Civic.

Then there’s the price tag, at $27,000, it’s about $8,000 more than a gasoline-powered Civic, but Flannery says you’ll make up the difference in fuel savings once you travel about 80,000 miles.

Businesses seem to be the first to switch over.

“There’s a lot of energy companies in the area interested in the vehicles and want to use these for their fleets,” Flannery says.

And with natural gas being cheaper and cleaner, Flannery thinks he’s selling the car of the future today.

“We’re going to see more and more of them over time,” he said.

The Honda Civic GX is the only factory-built car to run on natural gas right now. But both Chrysler and GM are working on natural gas-powered pickup trucks.

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