American Honda has sold FuelMaker Corporation of Toronto, Canada, for US$17m cash to Clean Energy Fuels Corp.

The deal for the company that makes Honda's 'Phill' natural gas home refueller is expected to be completed within 25 days, Clean Energy said.

FuelMaker manufactures, distributes, installs and services vehicle refuelling appliances (VRA) and accessories for fuelling vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Phill is the consumer version of the VRA and compresses natural gas from the home gas line for fueling vehicles such as Honda's GX. Recent prices for consumers using the Phill at home in Southern California were as low as $1.60 per gallon.

"The new era of high fuel prices has created a dramatic increase in demand for lower-cost natural gas fuelling in all transportation sectors, ranging from trucking to consumers," said Clean Energy president and CEO Andrew Littlefair.

"Due to the greater worldwide acceptance of light duty natural gas vehicles, we are broadening our strategic focus to offer fuelling solutions for small fleets and consumers. With the Phill unit, customers can fill up at home as well as at stations."

"This acquisition also continues our business expansion outside the United States where natural gas vehicle use has risen dramatically to more than 8,000,000 vehicles worldwide," Littlefair added.

"In Europe alone, there are many makes and models of natural gas-powered consumer vehicles produced by major manufacturers. We expect the majority of FuelMaker's sales to be international in the near term."

"Clean Energy clearly has the resources and expertise to broadly market the Phill home refuelling appliance and Honda believes that this transaction will serve to further enhance the convenience and attractiveness of natural gas as an alternative fuel to consumers," said Dan Bonawitz, American Honda vice president, corporate planning & logistics.

Clean Energy has customers in the refuse, transit, ports, shuttle, taxi, trucking, airport and municipal fleet markets, fuelling more than 14,000 vehicles daily at strategic locations across the United States and Canada.

Clean Energy del Peru, a Peruvian joint venture, operates the world's largest natural gas vehicle fuelling station in Lima, Peru.