The calamity surrounding the awards presentation for the 2012 Green Car of the Year is matched only by the calamity of selection itself.
The press conference typically follows a predictable script, with rounds of thank-yous and the eventual congratulations and consolations. But this year, there were lots of precious, unscripted moments to savor.
Because the previous press conference ended sooner than scheduled, the segue to the Green Car conference was nonexistent. The scramble forced Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal, to stop rehearsing his speech and go directly to the stage to deliver it. Then, as the reveal of the winner was to happen, a circuit breaker blew, power went out and the dramatic drop of the curtain surrounding the car failed.
A worker rushed the stage to try to manually pull the curtain back, but in the middle of that process, the power came back on and the drapes dropped on him.
Mr. Cogan, soldiering on, began discussing the winner and its attributes, unaware that his microphone was dead.
It may go down as most entertaining press conference ever for a Green Car of the Year award, if not the most entertaining of this year’s auto show.
http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11 ... t-edition/
Not exactly how you like these things to go off, and perhaps fitting for the choice.
The panels choice of the Honda GX is really unexpected, illogical, and frankly a bit disappointing. One of the awards criteria is that vehicle be a recent entrant to the market. There is nothing new about CNG based cars. You can use the same gasoline based engine, it is simply configured to use CNG instead of gasoline. This technology has been used off and on since the 1930s, most frequently in fleet operations. Honda introduced this model in 1998, and the vehicle selected here is the fifth generation.
If recent introduction is NOT a requirement then clearly the Nissan Leaf should have been selected. Strangely, it was not even on the list of finalist. Along with GM, no other manufacturer has done more to usher in the EV future than Nissan. Ford claims to have the EV gospel, but its claims have not yet been matched by the same level of action that GM and Nissan have exhibited.
Other than carbon dioxide CNG cars do burn cleaner than gasoline cars, and in July of 2011 the national average of gas was $3.68/gallon while the national average of CNG was $2.06, so there can be some operating economies to be had. Also, the vast majority of CNG comes from this country, but after this CNG has some serious hurdles to overcome.
There is not an infrastructure to support CNG nationwide. There is a mix of public and private stations which may or may not be workable for significant portions of the nation. Theoretically home filling is possible, and many articles announcing the Honda as the winner have mentioned that a home filling unit is available. However, Honda’s own web page says that “because of moisture and other contaminants inherent in some natural gas supplies, and the inability of some home refueling systems to adequately dry the gas and remove contaminants, Honda does not currently recommend home refueling at this time.”
There are however, units available, but the least expensive option is around $3500, but this unit is rated only for about 2500 gge before it will need a major overhaul costing nearly as much as the initial outlay. This does not include the labor and permit to install. And of course you are installing a gas appliance in your home that will be dealing with operating pressures in the 2000 to 3000 psi range. Enough to give most people pause for concern.
And home refueling takes hours to accomplish, because the unit has to ratchet the lower pressures of your NG supply up to the higher range. Faster refills are available at commerical stations, but the availability of those stations is uneven at best.
The other problem of CNG is that it is not an energy dense source, so a tank twice as large as regular tank will give you nearly less than half the range of a gasoline tank. Thus the Honda NG has a range of 240 miles, comparied with 400 for the comparable gasoline version. Starting to get a sense of why CNG has failed to take root? CNG advocates will rightly point out that 240 is 2.4 times what any comparable electric is offering.
Believe in it or not, global warming is the key issue that has prompted a serious look at alternative energy vehicles. CNG cars do nothing, to help with that issue because burning CNG still produces copious amounts of carbon dioxide, just as gasoline does. Thus, one could rightly conclude that CNG does nothing to address the global warming issue, so how does such a car win “Green Car of the Year 2012?”
To know that we would have to ask the panelists:
Selecting this year’s Green Car of the Year was a jury of six environmental and automotive experts plus Green Car Journal editors. Invited jurors included Carl Pope, chairman of the Sierra Club; Francis Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA; auto expert and Tonight Show host Jay Leno; and automotive icon Carroll Shelby.
This is basically the same group that last year chose the Chevrolet Volt as Green Car of the Year 2011. Obviously this group of people understands that CNG cars do nothing to address global warming. Don’t they? While it makes imminent sense in fleet environments, the marketplace has spoken and CNG is not being adopted in the consumer space. It is a shame that the opportunity to highlight a viable green alternative was wasted.