Updated: FuelMaker, the beleaguered firm that made natural gas vehicle fueling stations for home users dubbed “Phill,” has finally found a buyer — well, its assets have. American Honda, the U.S. division of Honda (s HMC), which partly owned the decade-old Toronto-based company, has been trying to sell the firm for months — expending “considerable time and effort,” as American Honda put it recently in their statement. Meanwhile FuelMaker ceased operations and started bankruptcy proceedings in April. Well, this morning American Honda says a subsidiary of the automotive holding company Fuel Systems Solutions (s FSYS) has bought up the assets and IP of FuelMaker for $7 million
an undisclosed sum (it’s got to be very low — it was previously selling for $17 million).
Despite FuelMaker’s best efforts, the natural gas vehicle distribution businesses just failed to take off. The device compresses natural gas from home gas lines, takes about four hours to fill an empty tank after a 50-mile drive (yawn), and costs between $5,500 and $6,000 (sticker shock). But the biggest barrier is clearly that natural gas vehicles are few and far between — Honda’s Civic GX is about the only consumer natural gas car around and can only be bought for $24,590 in select locations in California and New York. There’s more natural gas cars in city and enterprise fleets (AT&T plans to purchase 8,000 of ’em), but still the market is nascent.
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