Free Pass: Honda Civic Natural Gas, CNG Vehicles Retain HOV Lane Privileges in California To 2015

By Jacob Brown | July 12, 2011
Owners of compressed natural gas-powered Honda Civics in California will rejoice knowing that they can keep forgoing the gridlock of California traffic until 2015. Earlier this month, we reported that hybrid vehicles issued a yellow sticker with one person in them could not use the HOV lane beginning July 2011. Now we can report that as Honda ramps up availability of its Civic Natural Gas, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will extend the use of white stickers for natural gas, hydrogen, and electric-powered vehicles such as the upcoming 2012 Mitsubishi i electric car. Currently, Honda is the only OEM manufacturer that sells a natural gas vehicle in the U.S. with its 2012 Civic Natural Gas model, called the Civic GX from 1998 to 2011. Even so, there are other CNG vehicles sold in California, like the Ford Transit Connect CNG that is converted to run on the fuel by a third-party company. "Civic GX drivers in California have long enjoyed the benefits of driving a compressed natural gas vehicle, whether it was saving time commuting in the carpool lane, paying lower fuel prices, reducing dependence on oil, or reducing their CO2 footprint," said Elmer Hardy, senior manager of alternative fuel marketing at American Honda in a statement.
Historically, compressed natural gas has cost about 30 percent less than gasoline and while providing the comparable performance and lower emissions. With the recent spike in popularity, General Motors has announced that it is developing plans to develop a family of CNG engines, too.
Considered an Inherently Low Emissions Vehicle (ILEV), Civics and drivers of other CNG vehicles, mostly for commercial and fleet use, have access to 110 natural gas stations throughout the nation’s most populous state. While CARB issued only 85,000 yellow stickers to registered hybrid vehicles, it has issued a statement that the white stickers will be unlimited to those vehicles that qualify.
The agency will also issue a green sticker starting January 1, 2012 to Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (AT PZEV) that will be able to use the HOV lane with single occupancy. Currently, CARB only lists the Toyota Prius Plug-In as an eligible vehicle, but it says other vehicles will be added to the list in the future, likely the Chevrolet Volt among them. Sources: Honda, CARB