Attention California residents: even though hybrids are no longer eligible, the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas and its predecessor, the Civic GX, still qualify for exemption stickers allowing it to drive in carpool lanes. The Civic GX is powered by compressed natural gas and, like full-electric or fuel-cell cars, is eligible for California’s vaunted White Clean Air Vehicle stickers.
California has long offered two types of stickers: The white ones for super-green vehicles, and yellow ones for hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius. Either type of sticker allowed alternative-fuel or hybrid vehicles access to California’s carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers. The yellow stickers expired on July 1 of this year, meaning that owners of hybrids like the Toyota Prius can no longer drive in California’s carpool lanes without multiple passengers.
Honda, of course, is happy to remind buyers that the natural-gas powered Civic Natural Gas is still eligible for white stickers and, by extension, the carpool lane. While Honda doesn’t say that the perk is driving buyers to showroom, sales the Civic Natural Gas model in the first half of 2011 were triple the sales in the first half of 2010.
The Natural Gas model has essentially the same level of equipment as a gasoline-powered Civic and is available as a sedan only. The 2011 Civic GX started at $26,260 (including a $770 destination charge), but pricing for the 2012 model has yet to be released. The white stickers for these vehicles won’t expire until January 2015, by which time California will have issued a new set of Green Clean Air Vehicle stickers meeting strict advanced technology partial zero emission vehicle (AT PZEV) requirements.