One of the goodies that many governments offer to encourage EV sales is access to special highway lanes. In California at least, it seems that such policies are very effective. A new study conducted by UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, with funding from the California Air Resources Board, has found that state legislation that opened up carpool lanes to plug-in drivers has had a significant impact on sales.
The study linked auto sales with thousands of census tracts in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. It found that the privilege of using high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes – a big time-saver on California’s congested freeways – prompted the purchase of about 24,000 plug-ins and hybrids in the four urban areas from 2010 to 2013, or 40% of total electrified vehicle sales.
The conclusion is important, because the legislature granted HOV access on the condition that it would increase sales. The law will come up for review in 2019.
The state offers an unlimited number of white HOV access stickers for zero-emission EVs, but only a maximum of 85,000 green stickers for plug-in hybrids.
“We had a Prius and had lost our HOV privileges,” Long Beach resident Cheryl Downey told the Los Angeles Times. “We liked the Volt and realized it would get my husband back into the carpool lanes. It has cut his commute time in half.”