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 |  Feb 23 2012, 7:01 PM

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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

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 |  Oct 19 2011, 2:15 PM

 

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.

If they don’t, they may find fierce competition. Toyota will be releasing the 2012 Prius Plug-In soon, which qualifies for the sticker. So does the 2012 Fisker Karma.

[Source: Green Car Reports]

 |  Jul 12 2011, 12:00 PM

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Honda, which is currently the only manufacturer in the United States selling a dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle, might see a significant spike in demand for the Civic GX model. The reason? Honda has announced that the Civic Natural Gas will qualify for the White Clean Air Vehicle decals in California, which will allow access to the HOV lane through January 2015. Those who had Yellow Clean Air Vehicle decals (including the ever-popular Prius) had them expire earlier this month on July 1st, 2011.

The HOV decals have been influential towards the purchases of more fuel-efficient vehicles in California, with solo driver access to the HOV lane. With traffic as bad as it is in Southern California, used cars with yellow decals were even sold at a premium. Now Honda’s Civic GX will retain that luxury all the way through 2015.

Honda’s 2012 Civic CNG has a fuel economy rating of 27/38/31 for city, highway and combined respectively. The CNG includes Honda’s ECO Assist technology and Honda claims owning a CNG is about 30-percent less in cost than a traditional gasoline cost.

Honda has also announced that sales for the CNG have tripled for the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.

Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Honda Civic review