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The Green Life: Electric Cars May Kick Hybrids Out of the Carpool Lane

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July 19, 2010

Electric Cars May Kick Hybrids Out of the Carpool Lane

Carpool lane As of July 6, owners of pure electric vehicles will be allowed to drive solo in California's carpool lanes. AB 1500 allows ultra-low-emission vehicles the perk of a speedy lane on the freeway regardless of whether they have multiple passengers.

If the governor signs SB 535, a second bill being reviewed in the state legislature, hybrid drivers could have their current privilege of carpool-lane access extended to January 1. But the perk would only last until then – and no longer. Meaning that California officials would be pulling nearly 85,000 hybrids out of carpool lanes, making room for electric cars.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of promoting green cars via perks such as carpool-lane access is debatable. Carpool lanes have been available to hybrids since 2004, but the issuing of yellow access stickers discontinued in early 2007. While hybrid sales declined during the recession, other variables have had greater influence on the success of the hybrid- and electric-car industries, such as gas prices and the overall economy.

--Kate Cleland

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