All this year California plug-in hybrid consumers have waiting for a resolution over a limit reached last December for “green stickers” enabling solo driver access to HOV lanes, and now the state has again begun issuing the desirable decals.
After hashing it out, legislators have decided to allow an unlimited number of applicants to receive green stickers for eligible plug-in hybrids enabling them to drive in the high occupancy vehicle lanes solo for the duration of the program.
The stalled perk, and a waiting list set up by California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), adversely affected sales to some degree, but effective Sept. 2016 and through Jan. 1, 2019, this is no more thanks to the passage of SB-838.
On its website, CARB briefs the history of a benefit that actually was supposed to have ended with 40,000 issued green stickers, but which was extended multiple times in 15,000 unit allotments to the latest cap of 85,000.
California is by far the leading clean car market in the United States, responsible for upwards of half or somewhat more of plug-in car sales, and HOV lane access coupled with other states and federal incentives has been seen as an effective stimulus to those sales.
The program to allow plug-in hybrids access has not been without its critics, however. Transportation authorities have cited certain routes where high-occupancy lanes are becoming crowded already at times, and beyond that, allowing people to drive solo in a “carpool” lane has pushed the ethical sensibility of some.
The state does it to encourage more sales of these cars to reduce average overall emissions. There has never been a cap on white stickers for pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S, etc., as these have no tailpipe and emissions are zero from the vehicle.
Plug-in hybrids however do emit when in gas-burning mode, so they have always been on a shorter leash – until now.
Of proposed bills to extend the perk once more, SB-838 is arguably the more liberal, as proposed AB-1964 would have set an income limit on those who are able to get the green stickers. That bill had some liberality in it too however, and would have extended stickers issued out to 2020, instead of 2019, but the original Jan. 1 deadline for green – and white – stickers has been retained.
Like other government incentive programs, it will remain to be seen whether the program really ends Jan. 1, 2019, or it is extended, but the history has been one of dealing with things as they come, and assessing the situation as it is perceived.
The goal is much more clean cars on the road, and California is not wanting to slack off in a market that still has relatively low percentages of plug-ins, and which has seen truck and SUV sales rise this year by almost 13 percent in the wake of cheap gas.
Hat tip to Mario R. Duran.