Honda tossed CNG converter manufacturer Fuelmaker into the abyss, calling in its loans last week and then sending the lawyers to liquidate the company. This move removes a critical piece of the Civic GX infrastructure.
the Toronto-based Fuelmaker was operated by Honda under the rare heading of a numbered corporation, which allows the entity to exist with no registered name or trademark. Last Thursday, Honda called in its multi-million dollar loans with Fuelmaker and, when the company could not deliver, Honda went to Canadian bankruptcy court and forced receivership. A team of lawyers fired all the employees on the spot, halted all operations and began liquidating assets until the loan has been repaid.
Why is all this important? Fuelmaker was the exclusive manufacturer of the Phill system and the commercial Vehicle Refueling Appliance. This system takes natural gas and compresses it to CNG levels then fills the on-board storage tanks on CNG cars. The Honda Civic GX was sold with the home-based Phill system so customers wouldn't have to worry about finding sources of CNG.
Natural gas industry analysts are viewing the move as an effort by Honda to strangle the CNG market, making it a less viable option in the face of hybrids or fuel cell vehicles. Combine this with allegations Honda is artificially suppressing availability of the Civic GX and this has the makings of a perfectly good conspiracy theory. The entire long and sordid story is over at The Cutting Edge News.