Honda, Ford, Clean Energy, the California Natural Gas Coalition and Plug In America penned a letter to California senator Mark DeSaulnier, chair of the senate transportation and housing committee. The letter argues against the extension of the state's "yellow sticker" program that allows some single-occupant hybrid vehicles to use the state's HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes.

Originally passed in 2004 as an incentive to purchase hybrid vehicles, California's yellow sticker program was to expire at the end of 2010. However, the program was extended until July 2011. Now, there's another effort underway to keep the state's yellow stickers in use well beyond this July. Basically, the argument is that by continuing to provide non-monetary incentives (i.e. access to HOV lanes), the state of California is promoting the use of aging hybrid vehicles at a time when some organizations, including Ford and Honda, would rather have the state focus on encouraging purchases of plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, fuel cell and compressed natural gas vehicles. Read the full text of the letter after the jump.

[Source: Green Car Congress]
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Letter to Senator DeSaulnier

As we have learned in recent years, incentive policy can drive sales and help to create markets for certain types of vehicles. Allowing single-occupant access to HOV lanes is certainly one such incentive. For this reason, after two years of debate, California last year decided that vehicles achieving the cleanest Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV) rating are the appropriate technologies to receive "white stickers" for HOV lane access. Vehicles achieving this ILEV rating include battery electric (BEV), hydrogen electric fuel cell (FCEV) and dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. No cap was placed on the number of white stickers to be issued over the next 3 years and the program is underway currently. Likewise, it was determined that certain plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are the appropriate technology to receive "green stickers" under a new program beginning in January of 2012. A limit of 40,000 was placed on green stickers. These PHEV and ILEV technologies are extremely clean and will reduce California's dependence on petroleum fuel in a significant way. Thus, these vehicles are deserving of the HOV incentive which will, in turn, promote consumer acceptance and drive sales.

It is thus unfortunate that there is an effort underway yet again to extend the yellow sticker program, and that legislation to do so is being sought. We do not support any further extensions of the yellow sticker program.

As you are undoubtedly aware, manufacturers are aggressively working to bring additional advanced technology vehicles to the market. Non-monetary consumer incentives, such as HOV access, will greatly help to promote consumer acceptance of the new technologies that will be introduced. We would appreciate your support for reinforcing incentive programs that actually encourage purchases of new advanced technology vehicles by rejecting further extension of the yellow sticker program.

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