There is no doubt that California has been one of the more instrumental U.S. states with regards to the issue of hybrid and EV vehicles over the last few years. Indeed, California has played a pivotal role in the electric vehicle industry for many years now and some believe it to be the catalyst for the EV industry we see today. Aside from the headline grabbing financial perks and the promise of more environmentally friendly travel options, it seems that even the simplest of concessions can turn the mind of motorists in the region.
This week's announcement with regards to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in and around California may not have caught the headlines but it has certainly caught the attention of EV enthusiast.
How do HOV lanes relate to EV and hybrid vehicles?
In simple terms the Californian authorities have given electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle owners the right to use the HOV lanes in California, which effectively mean they get from A to B much quicker. These lanes were initially introduced as a means of attracting "carpool" groups where a number of individuals take turns to drive their vehicles to work maximising seating capacity for the benefit of the environment.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "The average driver covers around 70 miles a day through the week which is less than the full charge available on a Nissan Leaf 2013 - about 129 miles on a full charge. How many miles do you drive each day?"
Initially the existing arrangement which allows electric vehicle and hybrid drivers to use the HOV lane was due to run out on 1 January 2015, although this may now be extended. There is a bill currently going through the Californian legislative system which would extend the deadline for plug-in hybrids to 2018 and electric vehicles to 2020.
Should other states follow suit?
When it comes to the environment and environmentally friendly travel there are few states which can beat California on its proactive, although often controversial, stance. There have been a number of financial incentives, there have been a number of legislative changes but it seems that relatively minor issues such as access to the HOV lane are making a difference. The bottom line is that drivers of today wish to get from A to B as quickly as possible and bearing in mind the travel issues across the U.S. and other countries around the world, access to the HOV lane is appealing.
Some may complain that this particular incentive is discriminating against those who have diesel/petrol vehicles but the fact is that the Californian authorities have for many years now encouraged the take-up of EV and hybrid vehicles.
Will EVs be as popular when the incentives end?
Whether we like it or not, the vast array of financial and practical incentives offered to EV and hybrid drivers today will at some stage end. There is some debate as to whether the popularity of these two particular modes of transport will continue to grow as and when the incentives are reduced and eventually end.
EV and hybrid enthusiasts believe that by the time these incentives are reduced the industry will be able to stand on its own 2 feet and cost/reliability will become more of an issue than financial incentives. There is every chance that the cost of more environmentally friendly vehicles will plummet in the years to come if technology continues to progress at anywhere near the current rate. We shall wait and see!