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New High-Occupancy-Vehicle Lane Rules May Boost Prius Plug-In Sales in California

    The new Prius plug-in will be available in the US early next year and will cost $32,780 –or $8,500 more than the non-plug-in version of Toyota’s hybrid. That’s quite a remarkable price difference even if you include the $2,500 tax incentive and, for some, a deterrent in buying the plug-in hybrid.

    However, as it turns out though, the State of California may have unintentionally helped Toyota sell more of its new plug-in hybrid model. That’s because two months ago, it changed the rules for High-Occupancy-Vehicle (H.O.V.) lanes, and specifically which single-passenger occupied models were allowed to use them.

    Under the new rules, all-electric cars and trucks, plus hydrogen fuel cell and natural gas vehicles are eligible. The regular Prius, which was previously a member of this short list, has now been excluded.

    This is where the Prius plug-in steps in. California authorities have classified it as an EAT-PZEV, which stands for Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle, partially thanks to Toyota's decision to offer Californians a longer-term warranty for the car's lithium-ion batteries - 10-years, 150,000-mile instead of 8-year, 100,000 miles offered in other states.

    Therefore, despite the price difference, many Prius customers in California may consider the extra cost a reasonable price to pay for avoiding traffic jams.

    The next model to follow suit is the Volt, which is excluded from H.O.V. lanes due to its 8-year warranty. General Motors though will offer a 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty on Chevy’s extended range hybrid from 2012 in order to earn an EAT-PZEV rating as well.

    Story source: NY Times

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New High-Occupancy-Vehicle Lane Rules May Boost Prius Plug-In Sales in California

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