Californian buyers of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt will enjoy two big benefits: the electric car will be eligible to drive in California's over 1400 miles of carpool lanes, and also is eligible for an additional $1500 tax rebate from the state.
2012 Volts sold in California will be equipped with the Low Emissions Package, a no-cost option that qualifies the 2012 Chevrolet Volt as an AT-PZEV -- Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. To do so, the package uses an additional air pump to help the catalytic converters better filter exhaust particulates in order to meet strict Californian emissions regulations.
Though there is no extra cost to the consumer, adding the extra hardware and tweaking the software for the Volt does incur a cost to Chevrolet. That's why the Low Emissions Package is only offered in California, where it will create a benefit (a larger tax rebate and carpool lane access) for the customer. A Chevrolet Volt spokesman also notes that the Low Emissions Package only has an impact if the Volt's gasoline engine is running after the battery has been exhausted.
Although originally designed for drivers carrying passengers, California's High Occupancy Vehicle lanes have for many years also been open to drivers of hybrid and other green vehicles -- like the Toyota Prius and the natural gas-powered Honda Civic. Now Chevrolet Volt models equipped with the Low Emissions Package join those ranks; owners of the car can apply for one of 40,000 new HOV-lane stickers.
Chevrolet claims drivers using HOV lanes can cut an average of 36 minutes per day from their commutes. The Volt is already eligible for carpool lanes in various parts of Florida, Georgia, and New York.
California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project also will provide a $1500 state tax rebate for the 2012 Chevrolet Volt if equipped with this package. That's in addition to the $7500 tax rebate offered by the federal government. Combined, those potentially reduce the cost of a new Volt to just $30,995 (the 2012 Volt starts at $39,9995 after an $850 destination charge).