Happy New Year from the Golden State. California legislators on Jan. 1 reopened their proverbial coffers for green-car owners by adding to its inventory of stickers that give solo plug-in hybrid drivers access to the state's coveted High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. In fact, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has put 15,000 green stickers back into circulation, according to Cars Direct.
The state, which is doling out (for now, at least) an infinite number of white HOV-lane stickers for drivers of pure battery-electric vehicles, had run out of its initial batch of 40,000 green stickers last spring. Last summer, the state added another 15,000 stickers, but officials ran through that pile in September.
This year's influx of green stickers may spell good news for makers of plug-in hybrids and goose a green-car industry where sales had been dropping off amid plunging gas prices. Sure, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid sales were up 9.7 percent last year while both the Ford Fusion and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid had higher sales. But demand for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in fell, with full-year sales down 19 percent from a year earlier. Overall, plug-in vehicle sales (not including Tesla Motors' battery-electric Model S) rose 28 percent last year to almost 100,000 units after surging 55 percent in 2013.