Sunday, February 05, 2012

Chevrolet Volts capable of using Calif.'s HOV lane nearing production

GM is unleashing a pair of (naturally expensive) ads for its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid at Super Bowl XLVI. Just one day later, on Feb. 6, the company will finally begin building a version that could drastically increase its desirability in the state of California.
The Chevrolet Volt has not proven to be a huge seller. And GM may have already missed on thousands of sales in California by not making the original Volt meet the standards for white decal HOV lane entry in that state. The original Volt did not qualify for the lane because it didn’t meet the required emissions standards needed to classify it as an Electric Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle (e-AT-PZEV).

However, it may not have been such a "big loss" as the new "green" stickers for the California HOV lane were only available beginning in January of 2012. There are only 40,000 total stickers available.

That said, since the original yellow stickers expired in mid-2011, GM could potentially have sold thousands of Volts to California customers who wanted back into the HOV lane as soon as possible. None of the Volts made thus far qualify.

Volts with a newly redesigned exhaust system that will meet California's standards for the HOV lane were scheduled to begin being built on Feb. 6 --- tomorrow --- at GM’s Detroit Hamtramck facility. As of the last time we checked with our local dealer, that date was still on-track.

How long it will take for those vehicles to reach California dealers is still a question.

Meanwhile, Toyota began taking reservations for its Prius Plug-in mid-November. The latest information we have is that those vehicles alloted to the earliest registrants will be built in March or April. Yes, pretty vague.

It's a race for the first to California's HOV lane. Many of those who pre-ordered the Prius Plug-in did so specifically to get back into the HOV lane.

While the Prius Plug-in is much cheaper, remember there are only 40,000 green HOV lane stickers. The Volt also has a much longer range on all-electric power. Ignoring the price difference, which admittedly will be a deal-breaker for some, first to market might mean some who pre-ordered the Prius Plug-in --- a non-binding reservation --- may change their minds.

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