Chevrolet Volt

A few years ago it was not uncommon to hear a Toyota Prius buyer say, "I got it for the sticker." The yellow sticker they were referring to allowed the driver to use the High Occupancy Vehicle (carpool) lane even when alone in the car which, as every other LA driver knows, led to the frequent sight of a Prius with a sole occupant zooming by at 94 miles per hour along the center barrier.

That dispensation for traditional hybrids ended in 2011, but there are both white and green stickers that remain good for sole-occupant HOV use until 2015. The white stickers can be used for battery electric, natural gas and hydrogen fuel-cell cars, green stickers are for plug-in hybrids and those with range-extending internal combustion engines. A California assemblyman has introduced a bill that would push the expiration date for those kinds of cars back ten years, to January 1, 2025.

The allotment of white stickers isn't capped, but the legislation dictates that no more than 40,000 green stickers can be distributed and so far 9,000 of that tally has been used. It was said that when it came to reselling a used Prius that had a yellow sticker, it was worth $1,500 more than one without – not bad for an investment that cost nothing on the front end.