Those new green stickers in the Golden State haven't exactly been golden.

A California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) program that distributes special high-occupancy-vehicle-lane (HOV) stickers to owners of vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in has started slower than expected, as few plug-in drivers have taken up the state's offer to let them drive solo in HOV lanes, the North County Times reports.

California has distributed fewer than 4,000 stickers during the first seven months of the year, or about 500 a month, the DMV says. By comparison, when the state was still distributing the yellow hybrid-driver stickers, which allowed drivers of cars like the standard Prius to use the HOV lanes by themselves, it found around 2,000 takers a month between 2004 and 2007. The green sticker program, which has a limit of 40,000, expires Jan. 1, 2015.

Through July, General Motors sold 10,666 Chevy Volts in the U.S., while Toyota moved 4,123 Prius Plug-ins.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm surprised the numbers are that low. I'll say this, they're rising fast now. I saw 10 Volts yesterday. I used to see 1 a week. I was watching the cars go by in the carpool lane yesterday, about every tenth one was a Volt with a blue sticker. I also saw some guy with a yellow sticker on his Prius driving solo in the carpool lane, pretending he didn't know it expired almost 2 years ago.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        I'm seeing a lot more Volts lately as well. They've definitely caught on.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      The standard Prius was a lot cheaper than a Volt, Tesla, Fisker, Plug-in Prius, etc.
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        ding ding ding. Previously, the price of admission was a lot lower. I would expect the current rate to be slower than before.
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Years Ago
      California must have so little traffic that people just don't need to take the carpool lane!
      usbseawolf2000
      • 2 Years Ago
      In NY, all you need is $19k Prius c to get into the HOV lane.
      Kristin Smith
      • 3 Months Ago

      In California the Prius's stopped having he carpool allowed benefit for sure by 2009 (not 2011) as I had one from Toyota of Thousand Oaks and I remember I missed it by at least 6 months, FML and a carpool violatin in california is $381 dollar fine (but thats a lot cheaper than the  now returned red light turned Orange light/lane ticket that cost $490 orange line being by orangle line bus) ... just FYI

      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      With all the lax attitude towards green in the world it's nice that California officially decided that a standard Prius is not green now that electric is around.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        But they decided that plug-in Priuses should be allowed to drive solo in the carpool lane on the highway even though they cannot drive at highway speeds without using the ICE.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          "A pure EV sitting in a garage is not clogging up the carpool lane" No, much worse, it is a $7,500 tax credit. Carpool lanes are NO WHERE NEAR "clogged up" from hybrids. So that is silly. "then you could use the carpool lane for the 65% of the way and then sit in traffic like the rest of us for the rest." I think that you and a few others might have sour grapes at any vehicle with a HOV sticker that passes you in traffic... unless you can imagine them driving on electricity at that EXACT moment. But that is an illogical notion. HOV lane access is a reward incentive.. and it works for the exact purpose it was designed for. Not your own simplistic purpose. An early adopter of PHEVs needs every possible incentive... and a good incentive for even owning a PHEV, should be allowing them on the HOV lane.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Mountain mode is for mountains, not highways. And it's not for efficiency, it's to avoid reduced maximum speed because the EV drivetrain doesn't have enough HP output to drag the car up a mountain at full speed when the battery pack is low. 'It's counterproductive if it means it forces lower efficiency than can be accomplished by such vehicles (by forcing electric only usage on the highway).' There is no car on the market which is less efficient in electric mode than gas mode. I wasn't really referring to excluding the PiP via mpg, more the Fisker Karma and perhaps future even less efficient vehicles. Right now if you can put a plug on a car and meet PZEV emissions, then you can get a green sticker for it. I would like to think Bentley wouldn't make a V12 vehicle that does this, but I'd rather be more sure by the program putting in place efficiency requirements. The Fisker Karma gets a mere 54mpge in EV mode. This is by far the worse efficiency of any EV or EREV on the market. At least at the moment. The old program allowed Priuses in the carpool lane but not hybrid Escalades (or Lexus LS), I would have loved to see the new program be designed similarly.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Why does it matter? Both plugins are rated 190 g/mi CO2. Fisker Karma shouldn't be allowed in the HOV lane because it is rated 340 g/mi. A regular Prius kicked out of HOV lane, is rated 222 g/mi.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          "Also, you don't know the incentive reduces gas use. You never have to plug in a PiP (or Volt, etc.)." True, but that is a weak argument. A pure EV can be purchased with an incentive, then kept in a garage while the owner drives a Hummer. The incentive doesn't require you submit verification of miles driven. Just like any incentives for PHEV (such as HOV lane access) should not require proof of plugging in.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          @Rotation That may be true, but using the electric power for highway use is not a good way to use it. That's why mountain mode in the Volt is there (part of it is for mountains, the other part is to preserve your charge for use in the city, where you can get more EV range). The HOV sticker is an incentive program to encourage people to buy the types of vehicles covered. It's counterproductive if it means it forces lower efficiency than can be accomplished by such vehicles (by forcing electric only usage on the highway). And if there was an mpg requirement, the 2012 Volt would have done worse than the PiP (93mpge vs 95mpge) and only slightly better as a 2013 model (98mpge). Both of them fall within 90-100mpge with electricity/gas mixed. So you can't really exclude the PiP using mpge without being very deliberate.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Joeeviocoe: Yes, I understand the principle. I also think the principle is wrong. Also, you don't know the incentive reduces gas use. You never have to plug in a PiP (or Volt, etc.). Selecting a PiP as a greener car may have made sense a few years ago, but now with vehicles that can travel on the highway on electricity only being readily available, I don't think the PiP should be included. I'm saying the bar is set too low considering the current situation.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          The HOV lane is an incentive to buy greener cars... but the car does NOT necessarily need to be greener while using the lane. The incentive still works since less gasoline is used overall.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Joeviocoe: A pure EV sitting in a garage is not clogging up the carpool lane. And I do think that incentives for PHEV should require proof of plugging in. Impractical? Yes. But in my ideal world it would be required. In my ideal world PHEVs would not be allowed in the carpool lane unless running all-electric. You may say this makes long commutes impractical in EREVs. Well, long commutes aren't exactly green anyway and if you can make 65% of your commute on electricity, then you could use the carpool lane for the 65% of the way and then sit in traffic like the rest of us for the rest. usbseawolf2000: As little as I like the Karma, it should be allowed in the carpool lane when in electric mode. Even though it is half as efficient as other EVs and EREVs in electric mode.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          The tax credit is something else. We're talking about a CARB carpool lane access program here. No change CARB makes to the carpool lane access program is going to affect the Federal tax credit system. Yes, the carpool lanes around here have a lot of solo drivers in them around here. You speak for yourself about clogged up carpool lanes. There is limited space in those lanes to use as enticement, so it should be used carefully. You're funny with your sour grapes thing. You're just stating my argument in the most negative light possible. Yes, I think a car driving solo in the carpool lane should be using the lowest emissions technology available at the time. Before, hybrids were the limit of practical. Now EV/EREV technology is viable, so that should be the standard. I do not apologize for my stance on this and I reject your attempt to belittle it by calling a rewards system "sour grapes". Your last paragraph is pure opinion, not fact. We have different opinions on this. I don't feel that letting gas burning cars in solo is a good idea anymore because it takes away the incentive for people to drive EVs and EREVs by reducing the speed (and thus value) of the carpool lanes. This is not a "simplistic purpose". It is my opinion of where the bar should be set. Get a little maturity and stop belittling other people for holding different opinions than you.
          JakeY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Both the Volt and PiP are gas burning cars. They just happen to have a plug. Given it is impractical to enforce solo electric only driving on HOV lanes (the Volt is not guaranteed to be electric only in the highway either: you can set it to mountain mode or you may run out of battery charge for a part of your commute), it makes sense to allow both to have HOV access. And given an ICE is most efficient at highways speeds, forcing electric only usage in the HOV may actually decrease overall efficiency of the vehicles covered. At any rate, the green stickers (for PHEVs) are only for the first 40k vehicles from 2012-2015, so it doesn't make sense to have it exclusive to the Volt.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          JakeY: An ICE is most efficient at highway speeds, but it's not early as efficient as an EV. Look at a Volt it will go over 30 miles at highway speeds on the energy content of less than a 1/3rd of a gallon of gas. And a Volt isn't even as efficient as EVs are. My understanding is the new stickers don't last until 2015. They run out in 2014. It's pretty sad the green sticker doesn't seem have an efficiency requirement, unlike the yellow ones. http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm
        usbseawolf2000
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        Prius PHV is rated 190 g/mi using California electricity. 50 MPG Prius is rated 222 g/mi. Even in the worst case (West Virginia) using 96% Coal electricity, Prius PHV is rated 220 g/mi of greenhouse gas.
          usbseawolf2000
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usbseawolf2000
          @Tweaker - For plugins, see EPA Beyond Tailpipe Emission page (includes tailpipe and upstream). http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=bt2 Assumptions and methodology for the calculations are described here: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/label/calculations-information.shtml For any gas car and no-plug hybrids, see the EPA fueleconomy.gov page. You'll need to change the dropdown box to show both the Tailpipe and Upstream GHG. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=31767#tab2
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usbseawolf2000
          Busy with GREET again? ;)
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usbseawolf2000
          Joevicoe: Actually, the yellow sticker program (and blue one) don't let every hybrid in, they have mpg standards. And if you know of another vehicle rated at 49mpg on the highway, give a holler. Hybrids, when they were allowed were getting far better efficiency highway and city than any other car.
          Tweaker
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usbseawolf2000
          Where can I find those numbers?
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usbseawolf2000
          Peter, It is a ridiculous assumption that just because HOV access in on a highway... that the bulk of the efficiency of that vehicle MUST also be on the highway. That is NOT why HOV access stickers were given out! That is absurd. For example, traveling at 85 mph is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH dirtier than traveling at 70 mph. But the HOV access is NOT granted to Slower drivers... as if the gasoline savings MUST be happening at that very moment. HOV access is primarily for multiple passengers, to give incentives to carpool instead of taking two or more vehicles. HOV stickers have been given to hybrids to give incentives to buy hybrids that did NOT necessarily get better highway miles.. but got MUCH better city mileages due to regen braking.
          Peter
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usbseawolf2000
          In the real world on a commute on the highway you will be likely electric in a Volt (I know we can't enforce that) but we KNOW that you CAN'T be running highway speeds on electric in a PIP, in fact you will be consuming slightly more gasoline than someone in a regular Prius (which is lighter). .: giving PIP HOV lane status is political and not really achieving increased electric mileage
      Tweaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      How many months has the Prius plugin and HOV-compliant Volt been available?
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tweaker
        6 for the PiP and 4 for the Volt? Something like that. If you're implying this article is getting the story wrong by only looking backward and not at the present and forward, I would be greatly inclined to agree.
      VFan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I commute to work everyday at highway speeds and my Volt's ICE has never kicked in. In fact overall, my current gas mileage rating is over 600 mpg. Because this highway efficiency has surprised me I have written Chevrolet asking them under what highway conditions does the Volt ICE kick in. So far, I haven't yet received a response.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @VFan
        Electricity is not measured in mpg (miles per gallon) and the amount of energy to produce a kilowatt of electricity is much greater polluter than you think. In other states, they use coal or petroleum to burn to generate heat to boil water to produce steam to turn turbines to turn generators to produce electricity. The pollution from coal and petroleum is greater than the total hybrid cars on the road today.
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @VFan
        VFan, You can drive up to the limiter at 100MPH and the ICE does not turn on. The ICE on runs when the Volt is in CS (charge sustaining) mode where the battery is exhausted (around 15% charge remaining). Other scenarios are: 1) mountain mode enabled to build up battery charge, 2) outside temperature goes below a threshold where the battery needs to be warmed, 3) in park with the hood opened.
          axiomatik
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          hmm, I thought that GM stated that the ICE could kick in in certain situations on the highway, even when the battery has plenty of charge. I know the Volt is designed to run pretty much electric-only until the battery is depleted. But I thought GM said they found certain situations where the overall efficiency was increased by running the gas engine. Perhaps that is only at higher (than typical highway) speeds?
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          Yeah, what MTN RANGER said. The Volt design is to be pure electric until you run out of juice. And in usual temperatures, it succeeds.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Chevy volt is a hybrid and not a pure electric car. It is because it plugs in for just 35 miles on a electric charge then covert to gas engine when the battery runs out of power is a joke. Maybe we should attach a plug to the hybrids to meet the requirements of the law and allow the hybrids back onto the diamond lanes. We use a plug to get electricity that is produced by hydro electric generators, nuclear power plants, coal, and petroleum sources that pollute more than a hybrid car that runs on electric power at low speeds and gas at high speeds but helps regenerate the batteries from the gas engine. The Toyota Prius gets 50 miles per gallon but the Chevy volt gets 35 miles of clean electric power then runs on gas the rest of the way beyond 35 miles. Good only for work and grocery shopping not a vacation beyond 35 miles. Remember, Chevy tried a total electric car and promised 100 miles on a single charge but found it only got 35 miles and had to add a gas engine which sounds like a Toyota Prius. California has a law that allows a car that produces more pollution, not directly from the car but from the pollutant sources that produce electricity, to use diamond lanes. Not very green State. Change the law and allow the hybrid cars back on the diamond lanes.
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