Several types of fuel-efficient hybrid cars with lone drivers will now be allowed to use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Arizona’s highways. The new Energy Efficient Pilot Program is part of the Governor’s Clean Air Initiative and begins immediately.
Vehicles that are able to achieve a 45 percent increase in combined city/highway fuel efficiency are eligible to participate in the program. Currently, three types of vehicles qualify: the Honda Insight, the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius.
Owners of those cars will need to apply for the program through the Motor Vehicle Division of ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation). Once admitted to the pilot, owners will receive a special license plate, as well as a special sticker indicating the car is a part of the pilot. The program is limited to 10,000 vehicles on a first-come, first served basis. There are currently approximately 9,000 of these types of cars registered in Arizona.
The pilot program will remain in place while the EPA continues its long-term rule-making process for the use of HOV lanes.
The change also affects drivers of Bi-Fuel (e.g., natural gas and gasoline) vehicles. Under the terms of the pilot, and according to federal law, Bi-Fuel vehicles operating with only the driver on-board will no longer be allowed to use the HOV lanes. Within 90 days, the state Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) will issue Bi-Fuel owners a new Bi-Fuel plate; owners will be expected to destroy their current alternative fuel plate. This change does not impact Bi-Fuel owners’ reduced vehicle license taxes.