September 28, 2009

Going, going green: hybrids might not make the cut in California

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Driving a hybrid isn’t green enough these days.

Maybe not enough to earn a California HOV lane sticker when you’re a solo driver, anyway.

California lawmakers appear ready to up the ante on hybrid car owners who have enjoyed driving solo in the multi-passenger vehicle lanes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Stickers granting that privilege to 85,000 California hybrid drivers are set to expire in January of 2011. Proposals to extend the program would exclude most of the vehicles currently included in the program.

 Instead, lawmakers appear likely to offer the carpool lane exemptions to drivers of vehicles powered by electricity, natural gas or some other alternative fuel. A competing bill would offer it only to drivers of hybrid vehicles achieving fuel economy rates of 65 mpg or better, much higher than the current generation of hybrid cars.

“We’re bummed,” said Cathy Margolin, president of the 250-member Orange County Prius Club. “I drive from Newport Beach to Torrance to teach four times a week, and it saves me an hour every day on the 405.”

— Rita Hibbard

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