Honda Preparing to Expand U.S. Sales of Natural Gas Civics

Honda Motor Co., the only automaker currently selling a natural gas-powered car to U.S. consumers, plans to expand sales to most of the 50 states next year, from four now, U.S. Executive Vice President John Mendel said.

“You will see us expand sale of Civic GX across the country,” Mendel told reporters in a briefing at the Los Angeles Auto Show yesterday. “It’ll be a whole new vehicle,” he said, without elaborating.

The Tokyo-based company will make the sales announcement in conjunction with plans to revamp the Civic lineup in 2011, Mendel said.

Honda, which has sold a natural gas Civic for the past decade, promotes the fuel as causing less pollution than gasoline and sourced entirely from domestic sources. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have also said they’re developing natural gas models.

The current federal incentive for the purchase of a natural gas car is $3,500, Mendel said. While Honda has sold about 2,000 units of the Civic GX a year, it will sell only about 1,200 this year because of the plans to revamp the model, he said.

Honda gained 1.3 percent in Tokyo trading to 3,125 yen as of 1:23 p.m. The stock has increased 0.5 percent in 2010.

Global Warming

Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said yesterday a bill to help convert the U.S. trucking fleets to natural gas may pass Congress by year-end with bipartisan support.

Pickens wants buses and trucks that run on natural gas to replace the diesel and gasoline engines that contribute to global warming and increase U.S. oil imports that cost the country as much as $1 billion a day.

The measure, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced in September, has support from Republicans and Democrats and may be the first major legislation during the Obama administration to win support from both parties, Pickens said.

Mendel declined to provide a sales goal for the revamped natural gas Civic. Honda’s U.S. unit is based in Torrance, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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