No masPosted on May 19th, 2008 1 comment
At one time, encoraging people to buy and drive hybrids was great policy. Given where we are now, it’s not such a cutting edge application. Frankly, rather than see hybrids get these plates, going forward, I’d like to see states offering them to plug-ins and EVs. Which doesn’t mean I don’t love hybrids. You know that’s not the case. It’s just that people are finding their own, very good reasons to buy a hybrid. What we need to do as a society is everything we can encourage the next step.
Hybrid vehicles’ carpool-lane bonus capped
All 10,000 plates issued for unrestricted access
by Mike Walbert
The Arizona Republic
If you’re thinking of buying a hybrid vehicle to gain access to Arizona’s carpool lanes, you’re out of luck for now.
After doling out its 10,000th, and final, special hybrid-vehicle license plate last week, the Motor Vehicle Division no longer is taking applications for the pilot program, which allows drivers of the vehicles to use carpool lanes even if they travel solo.
The program cutoff comes at a time when fuel-efficient vehicles are hot commodities and gas prices dominate headlines. So Valley dealerships don’t expect much of a slowdown in the demand for hybrids.
State officials pitched the pilot program, which began in February 2007 through a partnership with the federal government and the state Department of Transportation, as a way to save gas money and commute time while aiding the environment.
From the start, officials planned to hand out a maximum of 10,000 plates.
Owners of the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Honda Insight were eligible to purchase the special plate, which depicts white clouds on a sky-blue background. The three cars qualified because they are able to achieve a 45 percent increase in fuel efficiency.
Drivers may get a crack at applying for a plate in the future, but federal and state officials first will study the program’s impact on freeways.
“All of these components will go forward to see if the program will be expanded or what the next steps are,” said Cydney DeModica, Motor Vehicle Division spokeswoman.
Holders of hybrid-vehicle plates still can use carpool lanes. And if you own an older Prius and buy a newer version? The plates can be transferred to the new vehicle, as long as it’s one of the three eligible models, DeModica said.
With gas prices climbing toward $4 a gallon in Arizona, more motorists are clamoring for fuel-efficient cars.
Sales managers at Valley dealerships say the plates simply were a bonus for prospective hybrid owners. The driving force behind purchasing a hybrid vehicle has been, and will continue to be for some time, gasoline prices, they say.
“It was a good selling feature, but it all comes down to gas mileage,” said Randy Martin, general sales manager at SanTan Honda in Chandler. The dealership sells five to 15 hybrids a month.
A handful of people are on the lot of Bell Road Toyota in north Phoenix each day looking for a Prius, said Jay Park, general sales manager. Last month, 42 Prius models moved off the lot, he said.
“No one’s ever come to me saying, ‘I need a hybrid because of the HOV lane,’ ” Park said.
In addition to the 10,000 Honda Civic Hybrids, Toyota Priuses and Honda Insights registered in the special-plate program, 16,879 of the same models are not participating, DeModica said.
In addition, many hybrids from Ford, Lexus and other companies are registered in the state, DeModica said.
Unrelated, but a Prius news heads up to Russell and all. Wayne Gerdes is driving a Prius from Chicago to New York, attempting no fuel refills en route. He is a hypermiler of the top rank, in case not all know that. Another Prius is being driven ‘normally’ by a CBS TV reporter. Based on ongoing posts at
Wayne is close to the end, but running out of fuel remains a possibility. The reporter has already refueled once and may need to, again.
Take a peak at CBS TV (in the US) because they may do a live cover of the finish.
Happening now, 11:20 AM 20 May Beijing time. Please do your own time zone corrections…I usually get them wrong.
On a personal note – GO WAYNE GO!
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