By on January 30, 2012

Starting in March, the Chevrolet Volt will be eligible to use the HOV lane on California highways. The catch? You have to buy a new Volt to use the carpool lane.

General Motors added a secondary air-injection pump to the Volt’s catalytic converter in order for the Volt to meet certain emission requirements. The Volt will also qualify for a further $1,500 in tax credits as well as the HOV lane sticker. Any Volts sold before the new package comes into effect are shut out, and GM has been strategically reducing allocation of the cars to prepare for the launch of the revised Volt.

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48 Comments on “California Volt Drivers Get Carpool Lane Access...”


  • avatar
    alluster

    This would literally double the Volt sales….
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    to 800 a month!! LOL

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If you’re enough of a mooch to commute on LA freeways in a car during rush hour, this ought to be a very strong motivator to get a Volt.

      Of course, it’s just more of the same peddling to those that are more equal on taxpayers’ dime; but what else is new in Dystopia.

    • 0 avatar
      Coley

      In my exurban neighborhood, the typical house is about 4,000 square feet on a three-acre lot. We are located about 60 miles from the center of the city, to which many of my neighbors commute. And Priuses (Prii?) are EXTREMELY popular in my neighborhood.

      I suppose that these neighbors of mine are very concerned about reducing emissions. Surely, it has nothing to do with the fact that they are allowed in the HOV lanes, even when occupied by only the driver.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I’ve never understood why HOV lane access is granted to “green” cars such as the Prius and Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I’ve never understood why HOV lane access is granted to “green” cars such as the Prius and Volt.

      One of the purposes of an HOV lane is to reduce emissions.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        Just because a given vehicle pollutes less per mile compared to other vehicles, doesn’t mean it is polluting less overall. Efficiency does not equal output.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Just because a given vehicle pollutes less per mile compared to other vehicles, doesn’t mean it is polluting less overall.

        It most likely will produce less pollution. That may not be true in every single instance of driving, but you have to look at the rule, not the exceptions to the rule.

        In any case, the state wants to motivate early adoption, which creates a base for later demand. California helped to stimulate demand for the Prius, which helped the market for hybrids. This may help the Volt.

      • 0 avatar
        another_pleb

        Stop me if I’m splitting hairs but I thought that HOV lanes were to reduce congestion by making people share cars.

        Fewer cars mean less emissions but the point of the exercise was surely to have more efficient traffic flow.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Stop me if I’m splitting hairs but I thought that HOV lanes were to reduce congestion by making people share cars.

        The goals of HOV lanes are to reduce fuel consumption, increase the efficiency of the roadway (i.e. reduce congestion) and to reduce emissions.

        It isn’t either/or, black-and-white. There are a few overall objectives. You don’t have to like it, but using these lanes to promote the early adoption of low-emissions vehicle is compatible with their purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        “One of the purposes of an HOV lane is to reduce emissions.”

        Uh, no.

        From California’s DOT website: “The central concept for HOV lanes is to move more people rather than more cars. Some HOV lanes carry almost half of the people carried on the entire freeway. Regular “mixed-flow” lanes are never converted to HOV lanes. Rather, HOV lanes are always added to existing facilities. Each vehicle that travels on an HOV lane must carry the minimum number of people posted at the entrance signs.”

        The focus has always been reduction in number of cars on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Uh, no.

        Uh, yes. You really ought to do your homework, rather than relying upon a whopping 2/10th’s of a second’s worth of inadequate Googling.

        The Clean Air Act imposes emissions standards. HOV lanes are used to comply with those emissions standards. I know that you want to take a dogmatic, black-and-white approach to these things, but they have more than one purpose and their construction gets funded on that basis.

    • 0 avatar
      cmoibenlepro

      Because government loves green cars.
      Who cares if 2 green cars pollute more than 1 normal car with 2 people inside? And not even taking into account the impact on traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      While it irritates the heck right out of me, it certainly is one way to spur sales of them in areas where the ability to use those lanes knocks a significant amount of time off a commute.

      My companies sales rep in the CA Bay Area drives a Gen1 Honda Insight for pretty much ONLY this reason – it has the magic sticker on it. He does not actually commute, but it saves him a ton of time when he has to cross to the other side of the bay.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      I’ve never understood why HOV lanes exist in the first place, at least for encouraging carpooling.

      Oh, I know what the intended purpose is–to reduce congestion and pollution. Here’s the problem: programs such as the HOV are supposed to alter the public’s behavior with a mixture of punishment and reward. In this case, the reward is reduced travel time, and the punishment is being stuck in more traffic.

      The problem is that being in a position to carpool is largely a matter of fate, not choice. If you happen to live next door to someone who works at the same company you do, and keeps the exact same schedule, hey great. Knock yourself out. Otherwise, it isn’t much of an option, or at least not without massive inconvenience and headache. HOV lanes are just rewarding the lucky, and punishing the rest of us.

      At least in the case of green cars, it makes a little more sense. You do have a choice what car you buy, and therefore the HOV incentive (or punishment) can alter behavior. Not saying I agree with it, but it might actually have the intended effect of influencing the public’s choices.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    “General Motors added a secondary air-injection pump to the Volt’s catalytic converter in order for the Volt to meet certain emission requirements. ”
    Was this because they used a lawnmower engine in this thing or because they assumed they would not start the gas engine as long as the battery was charged?

  • avatar
    vww12

    Looks like the well-off who are able to afford such $40,000 luxury cars will be well pleased.
    Home renters and apartment dwellers can queue up in the congested lines. Maybe eat cake, too, by the way.

    Remember, kids: the median US household annual income is $50,000.

    • 0 avatar
      cmoibenlepro

      yes I love cake.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      That’s nice. Other than singles and DINKs, folks with a household income of $50K rarely buy new cars of any sort these days. And let’s not forget, after the sundry amounts of Government cheese available, the Volt is more like a $30K car. Hardly luxurious when a rental grade Altima costs $25K new. But quite affordable if someone really wants one.

      I’d rather walk, personally.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I’d be hard pressed to call the Volt a $30k car. The interior falls below the Cruze, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Quentin

        I hate to seem like a defender of these things, but what should a $30K car interior look like? Having seensat in a Volt, the interior is on par with say a V6 midsize non-premium Japanese car, which are also pretty much $30K these days. $30K is still in the realm of “relatively cheap”. You are not going to find amazing design and materials at that price point.

        The Cruze does have a nicer than average interior for its class, but it has quite a bit higher than average price, and pretty ho-hum mechnicals at that price. No bargain there either.

        TANSTAAFL always applies.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Off the top of my head, Kia Optima has a far, far better interior for $27k (2.0T SX or whatever they call the top trim). The same goes for any upper trim midsize FWD, non-premium sedan out there which are still a few grand from $30k. The plastic touch sensitive IP feels extremely cheap and gimmicky instead of feeling premium like the iPod (which appeared to be their inspiration).

        I was also unimpressed with the chrome trim around the window eyeshadow, the eyeshadow in general, and the back seat was dreadfully tight for this 5’8″ cyclist. For $37,500 (after tax credit, this was the $44k sticker trim), I expected more car.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      And most people making 50k or under a year are not in the market for new cars either.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that most people who do buy inexpensive new cars make more than $50K a year. Volt buyers have average household incomes around $170,000 but that is just a reflection of what a frivolous joke it is as a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        Apples to apples: Anyone know what the average household income is for the buyer of any $40k car? Just curious.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      And that aint’t gonna change, as long as the cake eaters are so pathetically ignorant and well indoctrinated, that they keep supplicating to the bread thieves; grateful for every crumb one of them may toss to the masses.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      We’ve got an upsurge of “Lexus Lanes” here around the Bay Area; using the FastTrak transponders to pay up to $5 to gain single occupant access to HOV lanes. So the rich already have ways to be ‘more equal’ than the rest.

      At $10 a day (two trips) times 250 commute days a year, that would add $10k to the 4 year cost of running a car, so getting free access with a Volt starts to make more financial sense.

    • 0 avatar
      boltar

      Hardly a luxury car. Part of the point is to prod more people onto buying electric cars. The more bleeding edge adopters that can be convinced to pay the extra costs and deal with the extra headaches of the new technology, the sooner the price will drop and the infrastructure be put in place to accommodate the curmudgeonly TTAC commentator crowd, legendary for their cheap-ass car purchases, incredible rants about minor inconveniences, and disjointed noses from not liking the way government, car companies, dealers and/or other drivers handle their business.

      Not exempting myself of course, except that I’m happy someone else is willing to part with their money to get us through the transitional phase.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Pretty big news for Cali buyers. The greenest market will care about this a huge amount. But, I do wonder why this wasn’t included when the car initially launched.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I’ve wondered that, myself. Seems a no-brainer to add highly desireable HOV capability and ensure hot sales in one of America’s biggest car markets. I think failure to qualify initially was met with a certain amount of justifiable scorn.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    So, what happens when everyone in Cali has one of these and the HOV lanes become congested? What will this provision have proved?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      So, what happens when everyone in Cali has one of these and the HOV lanes become congested?

      That won’t happen. The number of stickers issued is limited to 40,000.

      These types of programs are intended to encourage early adoption. First come, first served, limited time offer.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      1: That’s not likely to happen, if for no other reason than the law will be changed before the traffic density in the HOV lanes approaches the traffic density in the normal lanes.

      2: If that did happen and so many eligible cars were sold in such a short time that the HOV lanes become unusable it will have proved that this sort of incentive is very effective at influencing purchase decisions towards more efficient and/or lower-emissions cars.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      …enter the UHOV lanes.

  • avatar
    replica

    Can this be based on MPG’s? I nail 35mpg in my filthy, dinosaur gurgling, capitalist ICE powered car.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    I think this is a good idea.

    You know why?

    Instead of clogging up regular freeway lanes with their 55mph shenanigans, drivers of Volts can now drive as slow as they want in the HOV lane! Less clutter!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    /will it now be called the HOT lane?

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Get rid of the HOV lane and put light rail in.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    If Chevy can’t move 3000 Volts by Q1 2012, I suspect the Volt will eventually suffer a painful death. GM is having trouble getting this albatross to fly.

    The Prius has always been HOV-qualified, and the Volt missed the mark by being a dirtier vehicle than originally planned. The Volt is to the Prius what Mahindra trucks are to the F150 (too late and too little).

    When the Volt disappears, HOV lane discussions will be moot, because tree huggers from CA to DC will be rending their clothes, asking “Who Killed the Electric Car 2.0?”

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I meant to say 10,000 Volts. The ‘edit’ function seems to have taken a hike.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I’m sure they could sell 10K units in three months. There would be a bit of a waiting list, though.

        IIRC, the whole Volt and related Ampera production was 12K(?) in 2011. I doubt they’d make 10K Volts in three months.

        GM still builds Malibus there, too. I don’t think there are many GM plants that are single platform only anymore.

        We’ll see how Californians react to this news.

    • 0 avatar
      boltar

      I doubt tree-huggers or anyone else will even notice as the Leaf and the Plug-In Prius and a host of other electrics come available. GM isn’t critical anymore, as fuel efficiency is suddenly a big concern across the whole industry and the Big Three are no longer stifling innovation. Toyota’s Prius threat has made it clear that any manufacturer not innovating on the efficiency problem will be driven out of the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Prius has always been HOV-qualified

      That isn’t accurate. Only limited quantities of these stickers are made available. The program under which the Prius qualified ended quite some time ago.

  • avatar
    Herm

    The Prius lost its HOV qualification..


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