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California lets the Volt into the carpool lane

Chevrolet created a lower emissions version of the Volt to make it eligible for single occupancy access in California carpool lanes and up to $1,500 in state rebates.


The first 35 miles or so that you drive in a fully charged Chevrolet Volt are emissions-free, but until now, that hasn't been good enough to make it eligible for a highly coveted Clean Air Vehicle Decal in California. Chevrolet has added a Low Emissions Package to the Volt that lets it achieve the California Air Resources Board's Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle rating (AT-PZEV).

High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in California require two or three occupants in the car to drive in the faster, less congested lanes. However, certain alternative fuel vehicles are approved for green or white Clean Air Vehicle stickers that give them single-occupancy access to the state's carpool lanes.

The Chevrolet Volt, which is an extended-range electric vehicle that uses electricity stored in a battery to propel the car for 35 miles before kicking on the gasoline engine, wasn't eligible to apply for one of the 40,000 decals. To join the clean vehicle fleet, Chevrolet created a Low Emissions Package for the Volt. The new package brings its tailpipe emissions down to near zero, extends the emissions systems warranty to 15 years or 150,000 miles, and extends the battery warranty to 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Commuters who use carpool lanes in Southern California save an estimated average 36 minutes a day, according to GM. The Volt's new status as an AT-PZEV vehicle in California will make it qualify for the green Clean Air sticker. It also makes them eligible to receive up to $1,500 in state rebates through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

But not all Volts can apply; only the extended range hybrids with the Low Emissions Package are on the Clean Vehicle list. Production of Volts with this new package began this week and should be available for sale in California Chevy dealerships by the end of the month. You'll be able to tell if the Volt qualifies by checking the Vehicle Identification Number, which will have an E, F, G, or H in the fifth position of the VIN number.