California Carpool Lane Access and My Transition to Civic GX

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Rick999, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Rick999

    Rick999 New Member

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    This will be my first and probably last post (except to provide feedback on questions to this post) on PriusChat after a couple of years using this site as a great informational resource. I just made the transition from a 2006 Prius to a 2010 Honda Civic GX with much hesitation. I am thinking there are a bunch of other people like me in California who enjoyed the carpool lane and are a little nervous about losing the privelage of solo access. This was the main reasons for the switch. I was very nervous about access to CNG filling stations and the reduced range (200-240 miles) per fillup of the GX. After a few weeks of this transition I can't believe I didn't do it sooner. I remember how I felt back in 2006 thinking I was doing such a great thing for the environment and how great is was getting 48 miles per gallon and how I would be supporting unfriendly nations less by using less gas. This pride I felt from years back is back once again knowing I am able to cut out foreign oil completely, giving Americans more jobs and having less emissions than the prius. The fill stations couldn't be more plentiful or easy (actually faster to pump than the regular stations) not to mention $2 a gallon equivalent at 30+ miles per gallon.

    I just wanted to make myself available to anyone who might have a few questions who are debating this transition. To be fair this transition was not all positive with some of the negatives being: the rediculously small trunk space (this is where tank is located), GX does not offer any features such as factory installed Bluetooth or Navigation and the range is half that of the prius.

    I was on the list to receive a Honda Leaf and was looking at the upcoming plug ins and volt...but I ultimately chose the GX because of the freedom to fill up in a minute without long charging times, guaranteed solo entry into carpool until 2015, no foreign oil required, and Honda is still selling below sticker (around $24k) with 0% for 60 months. I think once prius owners start losing solo access you will not be able to find the GX available anymore. They only make them for 4 states and only make 10,000 a year with most of those being sold to fleets, so if you strategy is to wait, I have to tell you out of the 20+ Honda dealers I spoke to only 8 were qualified to sell the GX and none of them had more than 5 cars. Something to think about.

    Questions or Comments...
     
  2. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    You couldn't wait for CNG Prius uh? Toyota already has CNG Camry HSD concept car. I wish Toyota bring out 2011 Prius that runs on CNG.
     
  3. whodat

    whodat Member

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    Interesting post. When does the carpool lane access expire and what impact does this expiration have on CNG cars? Which Honda dealer did you buy your GX from and was the price negotiable?
    Thanks
    Dave
     
  4. Rick999

    Rick999 New Member

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    Interesting post. When does the carpool lane access expire and what impact does this expiration have on CNG cars? Which Honda dealer did you buy your GX from and was the price negotiable?
    Thanks
    Dave

    Hi Dave,
    The hybrid carpool stickers (yellow ones) are set to expire at the end of this year. The white stickers (all electric or CNG) were extended to 2015 (bill signed and already in law). There is a bill that has not been sent to the governor yet that will extend the yellow stickers an additional six months but that is it. I did hear that if another bill passes granting plug in / hybrids (like the volt) access that the California Air Resources board would convert all HOV solo access vehicles to Green Stickers and limit the number to 40,000. I think we all saw how quickly 85,000 stickers sold out...but so far there are only 10,000 white stickers issued so far.

    In regards to the price...I got $23,600 (Norm Reeves Honda) but had to agree to extended warranty to get this price that was an additional $1,800. The warranty that comes with the vehicle is 3 years or 36,000 miles which would be about two years driving for me, so upgrading to 120,000 miles did not seem like a bad deal considering only authorized CNG technicians should do work on it anyway.

    One thing I forgot to mention is the $4,000 federal tax credit for this purchase as long as it is purchased new. When I pruchased the prius close to the conclusion of the 85,000 yellow stickers being issued there were no incentives and they were asking $2000-$4000 above sticker price. You can pick-up the Civic GX now for $1,500 below sticker, 0%APR...how long do you think this will last with such low availability once Prius Owners understand their carpool access will be taken away and this is the only quick fill option on the market and currently the only vehicle that can be purchased new (besides the Tesla ($100k+) that currently qualifies for carpool access until 2015. Just a thought...really think the clock is ticking on this one.
    Hope this helps,
    Rick
     
  5. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    Interesting, so are you filling it up solely at commercial CNG stations and have no filling solution? I'd be curious to hear if you encounter any stations that are too low pressure and thus VERY slow to fill.

    I posted some experiences at Edmunds had at http://priuschat.com/forums/other-c...atural-gas-vehicles-were-so-slow-fill-up.html. After I read those, I was thinking that maybe Pickens' plan wasn't such as good idea.
     
  6. Rick999

    Rick999 New Member

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    Interesting, so are you filling it up solely at commercial CNG stations and have no filling solution? I'd be curious to hear if you encounter any stations that are too low pressure and thus VERY slow to fill.


    To give you an idea of my situation, I work in Garden Grove where there are two filling stations and live in Seal Beach where Clean Energy is based and there is a filling station there. My parents who watch my kid is in Huntington Beach and there is a filling station two blocks from them so paying for a home filling station does not make sense for me. If I paid $8k I would be able to get the equivalent of $0.75 a gallon out of my garage instead of the $2 or so I pay now. Do not be confused between the home fill solution and the CNG filling stations. The home fill takes all night because the gas is not compressed but the commercial filling station is crazy fast. You pull up, attach nozzle, swipe credit card, lift lever, count to 5, shows % of fill at 100% on LED screen, remove nozzle, put nozzle back on reveiver and you are done.

    I have encountered some pumps that only give me a 70% fill but now I know which ones those are and avoid them. Some pumps only fill to 3000psi where the Civic GX needs 3600psi to get a 100% fill so that might be another issue, but I have found 3600psi at all of the fill stations I have tried so far. You can use the 3000psi but will only get a 70-75% fill so it is not like you are completely out of luck if you are low on fuel. They even have iPhone apps on location and prices of fill stations which is great for longer road trips.

    In regards to Pickens, it might seem like he is not making any progress because of the lack of mainstream personal CNG use, but look at Clean Energy press releases and you will see he is making a huge local impact converting FedEx/ UPS delivery truck fleets, airport vehicles, city buses, trash collectors, post office, etc. Most of these large organizations have private fill stations so when I go to any of the public ones I am lucky to see anyone else...but when I do, there is such a look of pride that they feel they are doing their part for the environment and elimination of foreign oil that they almost always want to spark up a conversation with you about how they feel this is such a cool thing most people don't know about.

    Hope this helps with your questions...
     
  7. whodat

    whodat Member

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    What the equivalent Priuschat for Honda GX CNG cars forum?

    What different maintenance do you need to do for the Honda GX versus conventional cars?

    I am guessing the oil change is less frequent.

    Is there a smog check?

    The gas CNG cylinder needs to be inspected? How much for this inspection?

    Thanks
    Dave
     
  8. Rick999

    Rick999 New Member

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    What the equivalent Priuschat for Honda GX CNG cars forum?
    What different maintenance do you need to do for the Honda GX versus conventional cars?
    I am guessing the oil change is less frequent.
    Is there a smog check?
    The gas CNG cylinder needs to be inspected? How much for this inspection?
    Thanks
    Dave

    Hi Dave,
    I know there is a forum at cngchat dot com. The maintenance is done at an authorized Honda Dealer with CNG certified technicians. The oil change is done when oil life % gets down to 10-15%, there is an LED display that shows current oil life at all times unlike the prius that just surprises you with the light that comes on. I am not sure if there is an exemption for the smog check but I do not think so. The CNG cylinder needs to be inspected every three years and with the 6 year 120,000 mile extended warranty you get two free inspections done at the dealer. I do not plan on holding on to this car past 6 years or 120,000 miles so I have not researched the costs for inspection but I know they do it at the dealer.
    Hope this answers your questions.
    Rick
     
  9. Kimoy

    Kimoy Member

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    Back in Asia taxis are converted to run on LPG for a few years now. The only downfall they have AFAIK is some drivers are experiencing sickness.
     
  10. rad911

    rad911 New Member

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    rick999,

    i too made the jump from prius to civic gx last week for the same reason. funny thing is that I live near seal beach as well, in Rossmoor. I love my prius, so I am thinking of keeping it. But to guarantee my stress free ride in the carpool lane till 2010, I went with GX. I followed the 1500AB bill very carefully till the day that it was signed into law. That night, I went out and bought a 2007 civic GX with 60k miles for 12k. Used civic GX's are hard to find. I agree that if you plan things out correctly, filling up is no big deal. It does take a little longer than petroleum in my opinion. hope these cng stations don't become crowded.
     
  11. pkellner

    pkellner New Member

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    What is the driving experience like of the Civic GX compared to a prius? road noise? basic handling? performance? power at speed? Did you look into the home fill option? I read below on this thread it costs 8K. I thought it was only 2K.

    What kind of range do you actually get?

     
  12. Rick999

    Rick999 New Member

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    What is the driving experience like of the Civic GX compared to a prius? road noise? basic handling? performance? power at speed? Did you look into the home fill option? I read below on this thread it costs 8K. I thought it was only 2K.

    What kind of range do you actually get?

    The Civic GX definately is a step down from the Prius, no doubt about it but this purchase was all about trade offs for me. The civic does not offer navigation or bluetooth, road noise is louder, basic handling is not much different and prius definately seems to power to speed better than the civic. The actual range is questionable as I tend to fill up at a quarter tank so I don't need to worry about it. I know I can get atleast 200 miles but just as the prius, it depends how you drive. The fill station is about $2k just to get it properly permitted and installed (not the cost of the unit). If you know of a way to add a NEW fill station for $2k please let me know.

    Now for the advantages of the tradeoffs. The Civic GX can now be purchased for under $24k with 0% for 60 month financing with a $4k federal tax credit. White carpool stickers have already been extended to 2015. CNG is plentiful in the US and uses American workers to produce. Helping to eliminate the use of foreign oil. CNG fill stations are added everyday and they are easy to use and never a line. Not to mention 30%+ cheaper per gallon than gasoline.

    This is definately not a great fit for everyone, but if there is someone out there who drives less than 100 miles a day in their commute and wants to retain their solo use of the carpool lane this could be the car for them.

    The Leaf is scarry with only 100 mile range then a long time to charge. Civic GX may only have 200 mile range but takes less than a minute to fill at a fill station. The Volt is $41k list and I know there are tax credits but you are also paying $4k in tax not to mention no 0% financing on such a popular model and you are still using foreign oil and no guarantee they will allow into carpool lane. Plug in prius will be great and will be our 2nd car because of the range but I have little expectation of being able to drive solo in the carpool.

    Hope this helps.
    rick999
     
  13. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    PHV Prius should qualify for the HOV sticker. It'll have about $3,000 tax credit. We don't know the price yet but hope $27k so it would be about $24k after tax credit.
     
  14. whodat

    whodat Member

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    CNG filling up in the Silicon Valley area of California can take time if you get behind either a bus or garbage truck. I was with my friend who has a Honda Civic GX and we went to get CNG and it took about 15 minutes to wait for the bus to complete its fill.
     
  15. Rick999

    Rick999 New Member

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    CNG filling up in the Silicon Valley area of California can take time if you get behind either a bus or garbage truck. I was with my friend who has a Honda Civic GX and we went to get CNG and it took about 15 minutes to wait for the bus to complete its fill.

    It has been my experience that state and local gov'ts, post office, UPS / FedEx and other large fleet outfits have their own private fill stations. The public CNG stations in my experience have been completely empty. I have not had one incident yet where I had to wait but I only have experience in the Orange County and Los Angeles County area.

    Rick999
     
  16. fredly19

    fredly19 New Member

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    I, too, took the plunge to the Civic GX a few weeks ago. It was hard seeing someone else drive off in my Prius, but it wasn't long before I realized the benefits. My wife works in Los Alamitos and we live in Rancho Santa Margarita, so carpool access is a must. We were quite nervous about the availability of filling stations, but we have not found it to be an issue. My wife frequents the Seal Beach Clean Energy station and we also fill up in San Juan Capistrano (for $1.92/gge). We bought a 2005 GX just above Kelley Blue Book (the car was in near perfect condition) and found out the morning I went to pick up the car (the day after AB 1500 passed), somebody offered the seller $1,500 more than we had agreed. Thankfully, the seller honored our agreement, and I happily drove home in my "new" GX.

    All in all, it is definitely a leap of faith going to CNG, but once you know where the stations are, it's not that much of a transition.
     
  17. timtim2008

    timtim2008 Member

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    sorry if this is a crazy post, but for those of us NOT in CA. can someone tell us.

    how much time does the carpool lane really save each day? 2mins? 5mins? 10mins? 30mins +?



    we have HOV in my state, but it only saves at best 2 or 3 mins. (on a very busy day)
     
  18. fredly19

    fredly19 New Member

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    For me, I drive about 18 miles one-way and my wife drives 40 miles one-way to work. I realize a time savings of about 15-20 minutes (one-way). My wife, however, saves much more time. For about 20 miles of her commute, it is stop and go traffic (405 freeway) and it saves her anywhere from 30-60 minutes. While the people in the regular lanes are chugging along, she is whizzing by (at 65 mph, of course).
     
  19. ggcc

    ggcc Member

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    Please let us know if you have more information about Prius Plug-in with HOV sticker in California.

    Thanks.
     
  20. sfcommuter

    sfcommuter New Member

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    I just bought a 2011 Honda Civic GX because my yellow carpool stickers will expire soon. I wanted to wait for the plug in Prius, but by the time you wait for it to come in and then apply for the 40,000 stickers - I may not get the stickers - I know those plug in will go VERY fast!!!! So I took the leap and bought the GX - I applied for the stickers the same day I brought the car home and it took less than 4 weeks to receive them. Now for the interesting part.....looking for filling stations.....go under "alternative fuel vehicles" to search for them......so far I've found 3 that I use - one where I work, another in SF on my travel route, and one in Berkeley on my way home to the North Bay - it cost $12 to fill up. There are NO filling stations where I live so my car is strictly a commuter car from home and back. The GX has no upgrades and the cost of the vehicle is from having the natural gas tank. It drives just like a zippy Civic. I am glad I made the decision now to buy it and not wait for stickers that I may not get (for the plug in). My commute time before getting carpool stickers was 3 hours each way and having HOV access brought it down to an hour each way. So, for me, having carpool stickers is an absolute necessity. I want to add I looked into the Nissan Leaf, but the driving range stopped me from buying it (my commute is 95 miles round trip). The Leaf gets 100 miles to the charge and I heard possibly 60 when its cold outside. So the Leaf was out of the question for me. I think that whatever alternative vehicle you buy it is helping the environment and getting us off depending on oil.
     
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