After the sensationalism of last year’s post-federal crash test battery fires, the Chevrolet Volt has something to smile about once again, thanks to the state of California finally approving the car for solo motoring in freeway High Occupancy Vehicle (carpool) lanes. Initially, the Volt had been disqualified, much to the chagrin of General Motors, though with a new Low Emissions Package (that includes the addition of a secondary air injection system to reduce exhaust pollution) the 2012 model is now eligible.
Although HOV single occupancy seems like a contradiction in terms, since these lanes were originally conceived for vehicles carrying two or more people; the idea behind HOVSC is to encourage commuters to drive low emissions vehicles in order to combat smog, which remains a problem, particularly in the LA basin.
2012 Volt models equipped with the Low Emissions Package (that’s standard for Golden State bound examples) have already begun shipping out from the Hamtramck plant in Michigan to some 140 dealers across California.
The Sacramento approval is likely to strike accord with a number of motorists in the state, who often have to contend with gridlocked freeways, especially in Greater Los Angeles. Using HOV lanes, on average, saves some 36 minutes of commuting time per day, essentially halving journey duration for many drivers. At present, California has some 1,400 miles of carpool lanes.
In anticipation of the new “improved” Volts hitting the freeways, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has printed up some 40,000 Clean Air Stickers for Low Emissions vehicles, while Volt buyers in the state can receive up to $1,500 in rebates thanks to the Low Emissions package, which makes the car eligible as part of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. This is in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit already available.
For more information and how to submit an application for the eligible rebates, Volt owners and lessees can visit energycenter.org