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Sales of the Chevy Volt are about to spike in California as GM prepares to introduce a new version of the green machine that will gain access to the state’s car pool lanes.
The current Volt does not meet the requirements to qualify for a high-occupancy-vehicle lane sticker, despite having a zero-emissions range of 25 to 40 miles. Beyond that range its gasoline engine kicks in, which the state says pollutes too much to gain access to the lanes, which have historically made exceptions for green machines like the Toyota Prius or fully electric cars. The new lower-emissions Volt will feature modifications to the catalytic converter to help burn exhaust gases more thoroughly.
Much of the success of the Prius in California is believed to come from that fact that it used to qualify for HOV lane status. Chevy is no doubt hoping achieving similar access will boost Volt sales in the state, which currently accounts for roughly a quarter of the 7,671 Volts sold last year. In particular, this convenience feature is expected to attract a new second-wave of buyers.
We first reported on this development back in November, and according to GM spokesman Rob Peterson the new lower-emissions Volts should be in California dealers by March.
California told 85,000 hybrid drivers to move over, literally. Now everyone is feeling the sting.
Starting last July the yellow stickers allowing hybrid owners to drive alone in the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane expired. The move came in preparation for an anticipated increase in electric vehicles on the road that will be allowed to retain the privilege. Though it may be the case that EVs are gaining popularity, pushing hybrids into regular traffic is causing problems for everyone.
According to a study released Monday by the University of California-Berkeley, the change had the effect you might expect: regular traffic speeds decreased and HOV speeds went up.
That isn’t all though, traffic actually slowed in HOV lanes at points where drivers try to merge back into regular traffic because of the slowdown. In other words, drivers in both lanes are noticing new slowdowns.
The report was based on six months of roadway sensor speed and congestion data, and written by Michael Cassidy, a civil and environmental engineering professor, and Katae Jang, a doctoral student in that department.
Cassidy said there is still plenty of space for hybrids in the HOV lanes, even with the new EVs on the road.
The only new production cars available that meet the standard are the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf. The Chevy Volt doesn’t qualify because of a specific California emissions law, though Gm says it will be addressing the issue soon.
[Source: Green Car Reports]