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The state of California has stopped awarding high occupancy vehicle (HOV) access permits to plug-in hybrids.
The Chevrolet Volt finally has some good news to share. The HOV decal that helped Toyota Prius sales get off the ground in California has now made its way onto the 2012 Chevrolet Volt with the Low Emissions Package.
“The Volts with the Low Emissions Package are certain to be a strong draw for California commuters looking to travel the state’s notoriously congested freeways in the carpool lane,” said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing.
Carpool lane decals allow drivers to into the far-most left lane alone, saving time and avoiding the hectic traffic that California is infamous for.
The Chevrolet Volt with Low Emissions Package will be standard in the state of California, and buyers will also receive a $1,500 state rebate in addition to the HOV lane benefits. The Volt will begin shipping from the Detroit-Hamtramck plant this week and will arrive at more than 140 dealerships in California before the end of the month.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles will have 40,000 Clean Air Stickers available for registered vehicles that meet the state’s emissions standards. Studies show that commuters save an estimated 36 minutes per day with the carpool lane: about a third of their driving time.
The $1,500 state rebate is in addition to the federal tax credit of up to $7,500. California is the most popular state employing the use of carpool lanes, with over 1,400 miles of HOV lanes. Volts registered in the states of Georgia, Florida, and New York will also be allowed to travel with single occupancy in the carpool lanes.
GALLERY: 2012 Chevrolet Volt Low Emissions
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.
It’s sales are but a drop in the bucket for Honda, but the Civic GX, recently renamed the NG, might have a chance to grow its market share thanks to efforts by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to expand U.S. infrastructure for natural gas vehicles.
The fact is, there is so much natural gas available in the U.S. that it’s actually being sold off as an export. Part of the reason is because currently Americans account for 112,000 or less than 1 percent of the world total of natural gas burning vehicles. Most of those are 18-wheel big rigs or fleet vehicles, but the Civic GX accounts for 13,000 since appearing on the American market 13 years ago.
It isn’t hard to understand why there are so few sold: of the roughly 180,000 gas stations across the U.S., there are roughly 1000 that offer natural gas. That means no road trips, no fooling around with the refuel light and little forgiveness if you happen to run the tank dry.
Despite all that, the compressed natural gas (CNG) Civic won the 2012 Green Car of the Year Award, beating out a host of cars including the Mitsubishi i, Ford Focus Electric and Prius V. It also snagged a guaranteed spot until 2015 in California’s coveted HOV lane sticker club, meaning owners may drive solo and skip through ridiculous Californian highway congestion – something that’s sure to make it a popular choice in SoCal.
The Honda won these accolades despite having comparatively poor milage with 27-mpg city, 38-mpg highway and a 31-mpg average, probably because it costs about 30 percent less to fuel them according to Honda. Natural gas costs about $1 to $2 less per gallon-equivalent.
Truthfully, the Civic has nothing to do with Clean Energy Fuels Corp.’s plans for expansion. They’re more more motivated by the crazy fuel volume transport vehicles consumer every year. Rich Kolodziej, president of the trade association NGV America, broke the numbers down in an interview with the Detroit News. If a driver gets an average of 25 mpg and drives 12,000 miles a year, that driver needs about 480 gallons per year. An average truck driver can travel 120,000 miles in a year getting only six miles-per-gallon needs 20,000 gallons of fuel, or as much as almost 42 normal drivers.
Given that there is a surplus of natural gas in the U.S. and that it’s significantly cheaper, installing that infrastructure makes sense. The special few who drive the Civic GX or NG will likely enjoy the benefit of having access to many more fueling stations.
[Source: Detroit News]
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]