Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tulsa & the Texas Triangle in the CNG Honda Civic

The emergence of CNG stations along the "Texas Triangle" has been reported recently. This past week I needed to be in Houston and San Antonio, so I decided to take the 2012 CNG Honda Civic on a tour of the Texas Triangle to prove whether the stations are prevalent enough. Note that the Civic holds 8 gge of CNG and no gasoline (called a "dedicated CNG vehicle").

This map shows the route I chose. 

Route deviations: 
  1. Placemark B - West on I-40 from Henryetta, OK to stop at the Love's station in Okemah, OK, then south on Hwy 75.  As reported in the previous post, "Oklahoma Turnpikes & CNG", the Indian Nation turnpike badly needs CNG refueling at the service plazas, but until that's installed Okemah is the route to Dallas. 
  2. Placemark C - East on Loop 336 in Conroe, TX to refuel at Waste Management's Clean 'N Green station. 
  3. Placemark E - West on Hwy 71 to the City of Austin's CNG station.  Love's future CNG stations in San Antonio are not operational yet, so a refuel in Austin was necessary. 
  4. Placemark G - this stop was not necessary as there are stations in Fort Worth, but I want to check out the Peake Fuel Solutions station in Cleburne, TX. 
The total distance driven was 1,343 miles.  The total cost of CNG was $61.33. That works out to about 4.5 cents per mile. 

I discovered on this trip that the mileage of the 2012 Civic is phenomenal - I achieved 44 mpg on the leg from Tulsa to Dallas averaging 65 mph.  The lowest mileage, 37 mpg, was on the Austin to Fort Worth leg - I was ready to get home averaged 75 mph. 

I'm searching for a metric that illustrates how the CNG Civic is the cheapest, fastest way to travel.  While a Chevy Volt or a Nissan Leaf can recharge for minimal cost like a CNG Civic, it takes hours of time every 80 miles or so. The fillups in the CNG Civic take less than 5 minutes and I'm back on the road driving the speed limit (not 55 mph in an attempt to extend the range). 

Called into KRMG's Wheels show Saturday morning - here's the audio of that call. 

I'll end this post with photos of the various CNG stations. 

Love's Travel Stop next to I-40 in Okemah, OK

Clean Energy near Downtown Dallas, just off I-45

Waste Management's Clean 'N Green station in Conroe, TX

City of Austin's station just off I-35

Peake Fuel Solutions (using GE CNG-in-a-box) in Cleburne, TX

Chickasaw Travel Stop in Thackerville, OK, just off I-35


2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your travels with us, that is an impressive trip in a dedicated vehicle (especially with that small of a tank!). Please share with us your best tips and lessons learned from the road trip. We need to know what helped you extend the range like you did. I want to get 44 MPG in my dedicated CNG Civic as well :-) You're awesome!

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  2. I'll write a future blog article once I have more data, but here's what I've learned so far about increasing the range of the CNG Civic.

    The main adjustment I made was to increase the pressure in the tires. The Honda manual specifies 30 or 32 psig; the max pressure on the sidewall of the tires is 44 psig. So I increased the tire pressure from 32 to 36 psig when cold. Didn't go any higher because I don't want to exceed 44 psig when hot.

    Three driving habits I employed to obtain 44 mpg instead of 37 mpg:
    1. Don't use the cruise - when climbing hills, I would watch the instantaneous mpg and not let it drop below 35 mpg.
    2. Minimize use of the brake - this required more attention on anticipating other driver's actions and road features - curves, stop signs, lights, etc.
    3. Reduced speed - I've found that the Civic wind resistance starts impacting the vehicle above 65 - 70 mph.

    Other tactics with unknown mpg impact:
    - Run AC on recirculation (NOT max AC) and control temp by reducing fan speed rather than the air temperature adjustment.
    - On long downhill grades, coast in neutral rather than drive. While the engine is still idling, the reduced resistance seems to compensate for that small fuel consumption.

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