Volt Can Use California's HOV Lanes… In 2012

I have survived Southern California’s horrendous traffic jams, though just barely. How anybody could stand to sit in traffic for hours on end, day in and day out, is beyond me. People do it though, and it seems to have bred a special kind of patience in the residents of Southern California. California also is a bastion of green living, and there are many advantages to owning a hybrid car in the state, like use of their HOV lanes.

While California recently announced that the Nissan LEAF would have access to HOV lanes immediately, the Chevy Volt was shunned. That has changed though, as Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill allowing the Volt to use HOV lanes… starting in mid-2012.

California got the ball rolling on hybrids before most of the U.S. cared about saving gas. It gave owners of hybrids access to the HOV lanes, normally reserved for drivers with cars filled with people (sometimes 3 or more). Cali capped the number of hybrids allowed in HOV lanes by issuing stickers, allowing one driver in a hybrid an easier way around California’s perpetual gridlock. Cali also extended this benefit to all-electric cars… but not plug-in electric cars, like the Chevy Volt. The bill signed by the Governator extends permit access to HOV lanes for hybrids for another six months, and grants the Volt access in 2012. Initially, the Volt would not get HOV access at all (unless it had enough passengers).

It was a bit of a snub that I did not care for one bit. Buy and drive whatever car from whatever country you want. Whatever your opinion of the Volt is, the fact remains that it will be a real, everyday driver. The LEAF has a limited range of just 100 miles, and your chances of getting those 100 miles or more increase greatly by driving under 50 mph. You just can’t drive that slow on California’s highways…unless, you know, you’re stuck in traffic, with the air conditioning cranked up. How long will the LEAF last then?

I’m not trying to take sides for or against either car. It just doesn’t make sense to me that California would make the Volt ineligible for HOV access despite the fact that it has three times the range of the LEAF and can operate at at length at highway speeds. Even Nissan has admitted that the 100 mile range of the LEAF is optimistic. In the real world, you won’t see many LEAFs on the highway methinks. I’m glad to see California rectify this… though why it doesn’t come into affect until 2012, I don’t know.

Source: Detroit News | Image: GM

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.