• Sep 1st 2010 at 6:01PM
  • 9
Prospective owners of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf shouldn't get too excited about driving in California carpool lanes as soon as they take delivery. Late Tuesday night California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 535 into law, extending access to the high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes to certain very low and zero emissions vehicles. This new class of vehicles known as Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (enh-ATPZEVs) and includes plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles like the Leaf and Toyota's Prius PHEV.

Unfortunately, there are some caveats. SB 535 doesn't take effect until January 1, 2012 and even then only 40,000 of the special stickers needed for HOV access will be made available. In order to qualify, the vehicle has to be rated as an enh-ATPZEV, which brings up the second problem for Volt drivers. A General Motors spokesperson confirmed that the 2011 and 2012 Volt will not be enh-ATPZEV certified. The requirements to earn the enh-ATPZEV label are significantly tougher than the standard ATPZEV. Given the escalated development of the Volt, GM didn't have enough time to calibrate and verify that the plug-in hybrid would meet the standard over a 10-year/150,000-mile period.

That's also why the Volt battery only has the eight-year/100,000-mile warranty required for the non-enhanced ATPZEV. GM spokesman Rob Peterson verified that the Volt will be updated to enh-ATPZEV in mid-2012 when the 2013 model is introduced. In the meantime, you'll just to make sure to bring a friend if you want to ride in the carpool lane.

UPDATE: We just got word from Nissan that the Leaf is eligible for the All Access stickers under a previous bill passed (AB 1500) earlier this year. That means if you take delivery of a Leaf today, you can be flying in the HOV lanes tomorrow.

[Source: General Motors]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      How about speeding lanes for low emission vehicles???
        • 5 Years Ago
        Typically low emission vehicles are fitted with some sort of eco LRR tires (atleast most of the hybrids in the states). I wouldn't trust a brigade of them at high speeds. Ive seen enough Prius slammed into the center divider here in Florida (Due to the rain + LRR tires).

        Id rather let cars that can handle high speeds go fast.
        • 5 Years Ago
        well there are a few reasons but the main one for me would be,
        it would promote the sell of these cars away from giant suv's which aren't really sporty themselves and funnel those vehicles into other lanes leaving the rest of the highway to those willing to actually have enjoyable vehicles.

        You're only looking at what you don't get instead of seeing what you would.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Why speeding lanes for LEVs? That'd take them out of their optimum speed and just be an "FU" to others who drive cars that are enjoyable. "You guys want to drive fast? ha! We'll permit the slow cars to go fast instead."

        Or you could take a motorcycle. Splitting lanes through traffic (legal in CA) is a much bigger advantage than driving in the HOV lane is. Of course, many are too scared to ride one :P
        • 5 Years Ago
        No product from General Motors could ever meet the requirement of driver self-satisfaction required in California.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What an ugly black eye for the Volt. How did GM fumble this?

      The Volt doesn't qualify for the best and most obvious eco-badge, the one that provides a huge convenience and magnifies that better-than-you VIP feeling that so many greenies live for?

      GM, you don't even get a lousy copy of the home game. You're a complete loser!

        • 5 Years Ago
        The test requires extended endurance testing. Since the vehicle hasn't been finished for long enough to do the testing, it can't be qualified yet.

        No car with a gas engine in it (i.e. not 100% EV) will be able to meet this test without a significant delay from completion to being offered for sale. Additionally, since the battery is a determining factor in the emissions the battery must be warranted for 10 years/150,000 miles. GM isn't willing to do it because of potential costs, we'll see if Toyota is willing to do so.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Did anyone else's inner monologue read enh-ATPZEVs in Arnold's voice?

      "enh-ATPZEVs, get to de helicoptah!!"
      • 5 Years Ago
      What happened to making interesting and easily readable acronyms?
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