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In addition to achieving an EPA-rated 21 miles of electric range, Ford now has another thing to celebrate about its new C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. California customers of the new compact MPV will get full rights to use carpool lanes with or without an additional passenger.

Whodathunk that banning hybrid vehicles from California's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes would lead to additional congestion on the state's highways and even longer commute times? Transportation engineers at the University of California, Berkeley did, and that's why the University's researchers are now pushing for HOV access to be granted to more vehicles, not less.

California has nearly 1,300 miles of carpool lanes that are typically reserved for drivers willing to tote a bunch of friends along for the ride. Recently, the state opened carpool lanes to drivers of super-ultra-low-emissions vehicles (SULEV), ultra-low-emissions vehicles (ULEV) and inherently low-emissions vehicles (such as EVs). The access to carpool lanes for these "clean" vehicles was set to expire in 2011, but with a swipe of his hand, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed off o

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