California DMV: Incentives offered to owners of plug-in cars still available

5:25 PM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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Chevrolet Volt, plug-in, rechargeable electric-powered vehicle

SACRAMENTO, CA - Seven plug-in vehicles, including the Chevy Volt, qualify for a green sticker in California that enables solo drivers to use the carpool lanes until 2015.

But barely over 9,000 stickers have been issued out of 40,000, which is a slow start, considering the previous, now-expired, 85,000 yellow decals for hybrids that went like hotcakes. California already has 40 percent of all plug-ins registered in the United States. Yet, more than 30,000 green stickers are left.

"This program has been around for one full year," California Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson Jan Mendoza said. "Actually, 9,000 is pretty good because these are specialized cars."

The price may be making customers hesitant to buy these more expensive cars,  plug-ins are up to $10,000 more than a hybrid, and Californians may not feel confident enough in the economy to splurge.

Clean-air advocates said it's too early to say the results are disappointing especially when sales towards the end of last year picked up, nearly 1,400 alone in November.

The goal of cleaner air is still worthy.

"Each clean vehicle on the roads means fewer asthma attacks, fewer hospitalizations for serious public health problems," American Lung Association Bonnie Holmes-Gen said.

With the slow start, the original author of the green sticker program wants to sweeten the pot by giving drivers a couple of more years in the carpool lane. State Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, will introduce the bill next week, hoping the extended life in the carpool lane will make up for the price and nudge potential buyers.

"It's a little more expensive, and the fact that you can use these particular vehicles in an HOV lane ... that kind of helps settle the anxiety of the costs a little bit more," Yee said.

By Nannette Miranda, ABC7

ABC7/KGO

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