• Jul 9th 2010 at 3:02PM
  • 32
California has nearly 1,300 miles of carpool lanes that are typically reserved for drivers willing to tote a bunch of friends along for the ride. Recently, the state opened carpool lanes to drivers of super-ultra-low-emissions vehicles (SULEV), ultra-low-emissions vehicles (ULEV) and inherently low-emissions vehicles (such as EVs). The access to carpool lanes for these "clean" vehicles was set to expire in 2011, but with a swipe of his hand, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed off on legislation that would extend carpool lane usage for the vehicles types listed above until 2015.

Somehow, the legislation was written up to exclude the extension on hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Civic. Therefore, access to carpool lanes for hybrid vehicles will expire at the end of this year. As expected, this decision has caused quite the uproar... especially from the 85,000 ex-qualifying hybrid owners in California, no doubt.

Some may see it as unfair that drivers of "clean" vehicles get unrestricted use of carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers on board, but the state of California views it as yet another way to entice car shoppers to choose highly-efficient vehicles. We can't really say that we agree with the plan, but with California's notoriously congested traffic, use of the carpool lane could turn out to be a strong selling point for EVs.

For what it's worth, there is a separate bill (SB 535) that has not yet been signed into law that would extend HOV lane use to plug-in hybrids as well. See the full text of California AB 1500 here.

[Source: The Car Connection | Image: Mlinksva - C.C. License 2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      A plug-in Prius in EV mode (62mph max, 13 miles AER) doesn't burn any gas. And as seawolf says the Volt can be categorized as a series PHEV.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 62mph figure is optimistic given how small the motor is in a Prius and the rolling hills of much of California. Those vehicles will not be running on electricity only on highways unless the traffic is very slow. And with only 13 miles range (less at top speed) they won't be running on electricity on most people's commutes anyway.

        As to the categorizing thing, don't be purposely obtuse. You know what I meant. Playing dumb isn't useful to either of us nor to your point.
      • 5 Years Ago
      PHEVs shouldn't be allowed in because they are always burning gas, just less of it. EREVs maybe should be allowed in on electric, but since you can't tell whether they are running on gas or electric from a distance enforcement would be impossible. So might just have to keep them out too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        RE-EV is a type of Plugin Hybrid according to SAE.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's unclear what this means for plug-in hybrids like the Volt. I'm sure GM and other such manufacturers (Fisker?) will lobby to get the incentive.

      I think I've said this elsewhere, but I think it would make sense to have a provision so that EVs incapable of freeway speeds, e.g. the impotent Smart ED (limited to 62 mph), do not get HOV access.
        • 5 Years Ago
        SB 535 originally limited the new stickers to PHEVs with a minimum efficiency of 65 mpg. I'm not sure, but I think that was omitted from what currently is being circulated.
      e85evodude
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good!! I suspect there will be a lot of Priuss and civics dumped early next year as they no longer can provide the benefits they were purchased for. As a daily car pool driver, seeing these cars angers me as they are always driving the same speed as the non car pool lane, not noticing that there is nobody for miles in front of them. These cars get good mileage around town, but not so good on the freeway when they are cruising at 75 or 80.
        e85evodude
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        @evonow: When all lanes of traffic are moving at 65mph, and some goofball in the far left lane is driving 60 or 55.... Yes give them a ticket, Slow moving drivers cause accidents also. If you cant get with the flow, get to the side or take side streets. What do you have against driving the speed limit. If 40mph were the max speed i would in fact be using more fuel due to the gearing on my car... And this is the case with many cars. Your RPM's need to be in the right area so that your AFR's are not outa wack. In many cars cruising around at idle means the car is running very rich. (using more fuel). The key is finding the right RPM to make the motor happy, and also the right gearing that allows the car to move forward so that the motor is not trying to overcome the poor aerodynamic design of the car. ( i feel there should be a industry standard for aerodynamics)


        @satn: I agree the HOV lane is not a passing lane, But when normal traffic is moving at 35mph, and there is nobody in the HOV lane, I am not going to drive 35MPH with the rest of the non HOV vehicles. This is one of the benefits of the HOV lane, LESS TRAFFIC. Less traffic = cars move faster.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        yeah.. 40mph and drive in 3rd and 4th gear. That'll save oil!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        You think that leaf drivers are going to be in a big hurry to waste their limited range by exceeding the speed limit?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        The HOV lane isn't a passing lane, even though it's on the left side of the road, so the drivers shouldn't be speeding because some idiot behind them wants to drive 90.
        e85evodude
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        Leafs.... I just wish we taught and enforced some type of lane discipline here in the USA. Cant we give people tickets for impeding traffic when they are driving 60mph in the far left lane, and everyone else in the other lanes are going 70mph (speed limit)
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        @ evnow: "Infact the single biggest way to reduce oil consumption is to make 40mph has the maximum speed everywhere."

        No, it isn't. If you've ever driven anything with an average fuel economy computer or an instantaneous fuel consumption gauge, you'd know the majority of cars are not very efficient at 40mph. Slower is not always equal to less fuel consumption.

        The examples I can think of are the rental Hyundai Santa Fe I had for a week, which had it's peak fuel economy appear at regular freeway speeds (with a very careful throttle inputs, the AWD V6 eeked out 26mpg with the AC on). Higher or lower speeds dropped it down into the low 20's. 60mph is where it's at in that car.

        My own car, a Hyundai Tiburon, gets it's peak fuel economy somewhere around 60-70mph. I have an instant fuel consumption gauge from the factory in there, and it will hang between 5l/100km and 7.5l/100km with careful throttle inputs. That's ~45 to 30mpg from a 2.7l V6 with a close ratio manual gearbox.

        As for reducing oil consumption, the best way to do that is to take people who hate cars, and stick them on the bus. Less congestion, fewer people who don't care about driving making the roads unsafe, and ultimately, fewer cars! isn't that what you want?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        The more Priuses dumped, the bigger pool for those who need to buy
        and older Prius to convert to Plug-in.
        http://www.calcars.org
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        Yup, scary.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        yeah, that's gonna be a problem.. hypermiling/driving slowly in the carpool lane... O_O
        • 5 Years Ago
        @e85evodude
        @e85evodude "Leafs.... I just wish we taught and enforced some type of lane discipline here in the USA. Cant we give people tickets for impeding traffic when they are driving 60mph in the far left lane, and everyone else in the other lanes are going 70mph (speed limit)"

        LOL. SO now you want to give tickets to people who drive at less than Maximum speed ? This addiction to speed needs to be killed.

        Infact the single biggest way to reduce oil consumption is to make 40mph has the maximum speed everywhere.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good. The HOV privilege should be time limited anyway e.g. the first few years of ownership. The original Priuses have already had a good run in the car-pool lanes. Time for them to move over and make room for increasingly greener vehicles. Also, only the first few thousand buyers (50,000?) were given stickers. Later buyers never got stickers while the original buyers continued capitalizing on the access decal. That decal substantively increased the resale value of those first cars by several thousand dollars which hardly seems like the intent of the privilege.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The car pool sticker value is based on traffic density, not gas efficiency. So I don't believe it has no value amid low gas prices. I would blame the economy sucking and no one having jobs to drive to.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As long as gas is cheap, there's no market premium for carpool sticker vehicles.

        Finally just sold my Prius for low bluebook after 4+ months on the market. No damage or excessive high mileage, just cheap gas and bad economic conditions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's SULEV for tailpipe *and* ILEV for evap. according to
      http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_1451-1500/ab_1500_bill_20100622_enrolled.html

      and

      http://www.dmv.ca.gov/vr/decal.htm


      There are a lot of gasoline SULEVs, even V6s and the Prius & both Insights are SULEV, but they don't qualify.

      **Inherently** low evaporative emissions is different than PZEV gasoline cars that need sealed tanks, evap. recirculation and charcoal canisters. Inherently means that if all that tech is removed, there are still low evaporative emissions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Confused I am. The Prius and Insight are classified as SULEVs? By not specifically including hybrids maybe they are just trying to weed out things like the Tahoe hybrid.

      Although a Tahoe with 7 people is probably lower emissions per people-mile than a Prius with a sole occupant.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There was a special list of cars that qualified. Tahoe Hybrids didn't exist at the time so it never came up. There were LNG Tahoes and Escalades that qualified though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A Tahoe hybrid with 2 people qualifies for the carpool lane.

        You can ride in the carpool lane if:
        - You have more than one person in the vehicle.
        - Or You have a special California carpool sticker issued to new low emissions vehicles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought they stopped giving out those stickers. Did they start back up again?
        wilkegm
        • 5 Years Ago
        Any pig SUV can get a ULEV rating, the Tahoe Hybrid included. It has nothing (read NOTHING) to do with eficiency, just HC, CO and NOx emissions.
        e85evodude
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tahoe hybrid cannot get one of those stickers here in California. I believe the car had to get a minimum of 45mpg and by a hybrid to get the sticker.

      • 5 Years Ago
      People , this is so transparent , California is broke , new revenue plan is to allow
      usage of HOV lines for a fee. In order to make those lines attractive one has to empty it by pushing Toyota Prius drivers out of the privileged status.
      Once again using a green idea image to tax people for the road they already got taxed for .Brilliant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A similar event took place here in the Washington DC area for those commuting north on 395.
      Per VA DMV, "Only hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 can use the I-95/395 HOV lanes during rush hours. All hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates can use all other HOV lanes in Virginia during HOV hours, including I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road in Northern Virginia."

      As government creates incentives and perks encouraging people to drive fuel sipping vehicles they fail to see that this once exclusive group is no longer elite. Regular people now drive low emission vehicles and fill said carpool lanes.

      As a previous commenter said, a Tahoe Hybrid with 5 passengers is much more efficient than even a Tesla with only one driver.

      I won’t get on my band wagon of reducing the impact of transit vs. reducing the need to transit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      the right thing to do. the prius is a dead end as I've been saying. it's a gas car only and as such is not part of the solution.
      battery drive has to be key. BEVs and REEVs only
      easy way to fix global warming, peak oil and energy security. (the last part is mostly nonsense but if it will get the right wing retards to move I'm ok with it :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think you've ever said that before.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you blame me for helping the world
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