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Honda looks to dealers to boost natural gas station network

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Honda Motor Co., the only automaker selling compressed natural gas-powered cars to U.S. drivers, wants some of its dealers to also install pumps to sell the fuel as its seeks to double sales of CNG vehicles.

Boosting sales of Indiana-built Civic Natural Gas sedans requires more fuel stations, said Steve Center, Honda's U.S. vice president for environmental business development. Honda is negotiating with regulators in California, the biggest U.S. market for CNG vehicles, seeking to have pumps placed at two or more Honda dealerships this year, he said Tuesday.

“If the dealer had a fueling station, it would really reduce some of that concern for the customer,” Center said at Honda’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif. “It’s not our place to create infrastructure, but it’s a chicken-and-egg situation and we’re going to have to nurse that egg along.”

Honda’s strategy of marketing autos powered by natural gas, a domestically sourced fuel that’s cheaper than gasoline and emits less tailpipe exhaust, comes as U.S.-based competitors plan their own CNG models. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC this week both said they’re readying pickups that will run on the fuel.

The United States on Tuesday raised its forecast for natural gas output in 2012 by 0.4 percent and lowered its outlook for prices. Marketed gas production will average 67.91 billion cubic feet a day in 2012, up from 67.64 billion estimated in February, the Energy Department said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, released in Washington, D.C.

The International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles says on its website there were 1,000 stations and 112,000 natural gas vehicles in the U.S. as of December 2010.

Currently, 270 U.S. Honda dealers plan to sell the Civic Natural Gas, a revamped version of the Civic GX compact sold since the 1990s. The Tokyo-based carmaker’s initial goal is to sell “4,000 to 5,000” CNG vehicles annually, double the previous annual rate, Center said.

The car is made at Honda's plant in Greensburg, about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Details such as the cost of a CNG station at a dealership, how many vehicles it could serve a day and how many such facilities may be established are still being studied, Center said. Honda can work with dealers to obtain needed permits, apply for public incentives and provide financing, he said.

“Something like this helps fill in holes,” Center said. “We want to select a couple of test cases and walk through it.”

Honda’s Civic Natural Gas sedan costs $26,155, or $2,100 more than a hybrid version of the compact model. The car was named 2012 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles auto show in November.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

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  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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