California commuters will either celebrate or curse SB 535, a new law that extends hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles' usage of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in the Golden State.

Introduced by Sen. Leland Yee and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new law expands the ability for hybrid, electric and natural-gas powered vehicles fitted with the ubiquitous yellow bumper stickers to drive solo in the carpool lanes during designated hours. Additionally, it increases the number of permits to 40,000 and widens the eligible vehicles to include the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle (*UPDATE: see this clarification post).

Some lawmakers opposed the bill, citing that California's carpool lanes are already congested with alt-fuel vehicles and additional permits will exacerbate the issue. And this shouldn't come as a surprise, but General Motors sponsored the bill. Plug In America says it "worked tirelessly" to support the bill and cheered its passing, as you can read after the jump.

[Source: LA Times]


Plug In Amer Lauds PHEV HOV-Lane Access

SACRAMENTO-Aug. 31, 2010: Plug In America, which has been working in the state capital for passage of California SB 535, celebrates Gov. Schwarzenegger's signing of the bill last night. SB 535 extends HOV-lane access to plug-in hybrid vehicles starting in 2012. Automakers Audi, Chevrolet, Fisker, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota have announced availability of plug-in hybrid vehicles for 2012 which can take advantage of the incentive. Please visit Plug In America's Vehicle Tracker for more information on EV/PHEV availability:

Says Jay Friedland, Legislative Director of Plug In America: "This bill is good public policy because it creates a very strong incentive for the next generation of plug-in vehicles and will encourage more California drivers to plug in and reduce oil consumption."

Along with the recently passed AB1500, which gives HOV access to EVs, SB 535 will allow up to 40,000 new HOV plug-in hybrid access stickers to be issued prior to 12/31/2014. In order to be eligible for PHEV HOV access under SB 535, vehicles must meet the California Air Resources Board's Enhanced AT-PZEV standard.

Details on SB 535 here:

Details on AB 1500 here:

The bill's analysis here:

At least five other states offer HOV lane access to plug-in vehicles. See Plug In America's page on EV/PHEV incentives here:

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