April 17, 2007: Source – CNN

Bill Nye

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, marvels at the ultra-clean emissions of hybrids. Unfortunately, the Georgia EPA doesn’t share his sentiment. Georgia testing centers are sending Prius drivers home with failing grades.

Adjusting to the new realities of hybrid cars takes longer for some people than others. Take the Georgia Environmental Protection Agency for example. While California, Colorado and Maryland exempt hybrid drivers from some emissions testing, Georgia testing centers are sending Prius drivers home with failing grades.

The 2004 Prius doesn’t really fail the test, as much as it refuses to take the exam. When the Prius begins to idle—exactly as designed, to prevent unnecessarily burning gasoline —the testing system shuts down. According to a CNN report, “The Prius hybrid’s unique mix of gas and electric power is the befuddlement of the state’s emissions system.” Repeating the test produces the same flawed result, only yielding an “aborted test” certificate for the driver.

This is the first year that drivers of the 2004 Prius are required to take the emissions test in Georgia, which ranked 20th in the nation in new hybrid registrations in January 2007. Many states and municipalities around the country are incentivizing hybrid sales by offering special HOV lane access, tax waivers, free parking and exemptions from testing.

Despite the shortcoming of Georgia’s hybrid emissions systems, the state is still requiring Prius owners to pay the $25 testing fee to pay for a failed certificate, which then can be used to apply for an exception as part of a convoluted process of buying a license plate. When asked if Georgia should consider waiving the Prius, which is one of the cleanest running vehicles available today, Heather Abrams, chief of the Georgia Air Protection Branch, said, “It’s something that we are looking at on a long term basis, but we’re not at that point yet.”

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