Consumers shopping for a plug-in hybrid in California get an extra incentive, but it isn’t expected to last long.
Beginning this month, the California DMV will grant 15,000 Green Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decals. These allow low emission cars to drive in carpool lanes, even when the lanes are reserved for high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs) carrying at least two or three passengers.
Plug-in hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius or Chevrolet Volt, are eligible for the green CAV decals. The California Air Resource Board (CARB) lists the 19 qualifying models on its website.
These new permits don’t affect consumers considering an all-electric car like the Nissan Leaf. California issues white CAV decals to most zero-emission and inherently low-emission vehicles, and has an unlimited supply of permits.
The decals have been in high demand since the state first offered them. After issuing all 40,000 decals last year, California added another 15,000 in July. Assembly Bill 2013, signed by Governor Jerry Brown last September, added this third series of permits. According to CARB’s website, a total of 56,571 green CAV permits have been issued to date.
After the decal has been purchased, California says it can remain with the car, even after the car is sold. The state doesn’t allow drivers to transfer the decal to different car, however. Some drivers have voiced frustration with this rule, saying that it doesn’t give them an incentive to purchase a new car. The only exception is if the car is wrecked and declared a total loss, in which case the DMV will issue an additional decal for the replacement vehicle.