One of the advantages of owning a hybrid vehicle in state of California is that you could drive in the HOV ala so-called “car pool” lane just by yourself.
Well, that’s ending next year.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has revoked high-mileage hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius in the use of the lane. Approximately 85,000 hybrids currently have access to the HOV lane.
However, vehicles powered by natural gas and hydrogen also have access to the lanes, and their fate was unknown.
Until now. Honda has just announced that its Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle and fuel-cell-powered FCX Clarity will continue to have HOV access until 2015.
Full press release below. Our take? Hybrid access to the HOV lanes were enacted to entice Americans to buy hybrids. We think, though, the same strategy will be less effective on natural gas and hydrogen-fueled vehicles which continue to suffer the lack of fueling stations. A similar issue affects electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF. Note that, at the time of this post, it is unknown if EVs also have HOV access.
Honda Civic GX and FCX Clarity Retain California HOV Lane Access Until 2015
07/12/2010 – TORRANCE, Calif. -
California drivers of the compressed natural gas (CNG) – powered Civic GX and zero-emissions FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle will continue to have access to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) highway lane until January 2015. The recently passed California Assembly Bill 1500 extends HOV lane access to Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEV), which includes cars that are certified zero emission and CNG vehicles. Before the extension was passed, existing ILEV HOV access stickers were set to expire January 1, 2011. Under the new law an unlimited number of HOV lane access stickers will be issued to eligible ILEV vehicles. The law takes effect January 1, 2011.
Honda is the only OEM currently selling a dedicated CNG-powered vehicle designed and manufactured for retail sale in the United States. The 2010 Civic GX achieves an EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 24/36* miles per gasoline-gallon equivalent and is the only vehicle certified by the EPA to meet both Federal Tier 2-Bin 2 and Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV) zero evaporative emission certification standards**. The Civic GX is available at 43 dealers in California and is priced at $25,340***.
Civic GX owners can refuel at numerous public stations around California as well as at home with a Phill natural gas home refueling appliance. Sold by BRC FuelMaker, Phill connects to a home’s existing natural gas line and allows for convenient overnight fueling of the Civic GX.
The zero emissions, hydrogen powered FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle is available for lease-only in Southern California. The sleek and modern sedan is propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in an on-board hydrogen fuel cell. The FCX Clarity’s only emission is water, and its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern gasoline-powered automobile and two times that of a gasoline-powered hybrid vehicle.
For more information about Honda vehicles, please visit www.honda.com.
For more information about Phill, please visit http://www.impcotechnologies.com/fuelmaker.asp.
*Based on 2010 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
**EPA Tier-2, Bin-2 and ILEV certification as of May 2009
***Price does not include $750 destination and handling. Price does not take into account state or federal tax credits.