Sometimes life is about duty. Normal, plain, unaffected, flashless action performed without a hint of bombast. That’s the theme of today’s story about Honda building a natural gas filling station for vehicles at its Marysville, Ohio plant.
If you’ve never heard of a vehicle that runs on natural gas, it’s probably because they’re a terrifically tiny minority in the U.S. You might have seen city buses that run on natural gas in Chapel Hill, or elsewhere, but in terms of personal vehicles, Honda is the only mainstream automaker to sell a natural gas car.
We’ve all heard of hybrid cars, and the other types of alternative energy: hydrogen, solar, electric, diesel and biofuels. Natural gas is like these but has had trouble getting out of the ground (get it?). One of the reasons why is a similarity to the VHS/Betamax wars of the 1980s, or the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD skirmish of the 2000s (pardon us while slip into our nerd glasses).
The reason is basically format: compressed natural gas versus liquid natural gas. Both automakers and filling station operators would need to agree on a standard before committing their own resources, and thus far, such a standard has not emerged.
The station that Honda is building is a CNG station, and will be open to the public. That’s a fortunate distinction because although there are around 1,000 natural gas filling stations in the U.S., about half of them are for private use only.
Of the station’s four pumps, three will be for commercial vehicles and one will be for regular folks. Given the small number of personal natural gas vehicles in the U.S., that’s the natural distribution.
The station will supposedly be fully automated, and though we don’t know exactly what that means, we imagine that it’s a safety feature given the highly- pressurized nature of the fuel’s compression tanks. That or it’s a coolness feature with giant robot arms and laser shows.
It’s a small step, but we appreciate Honda’s encouragement to the suppliers who haul things to and from the Marysville plant. As long as they’re doing all the hauling, it couldn’t hurt to offer an alternative fuel station for them, right? Right.