California Hybrid Owners Lose HOV Lane Privileges

California was on the cutting edge when it tried to incentivize hybrid car ownership. Instead of relying purely on tax breaks, it allowed hybrid owners access to HOV lanes (without the usual requirement of having a passenger in the car) simply by slapping a yellow sticker on their bumpers. In gridlock-plagued California this was one delicious carrot to be dangled.

Over the years, the state restricted the types of hybrids rated for the privilege. Today, even those hybrids — the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Honda Insight — will no longer be eligible for the speedy lanes.

However, electric car owners will be able to get stickers allowing them access to HOV lanes. A new carrot, err … green sticker, will be available starting Jan. 1, 2012, for owners of the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and other electric- and natural-gas-powered vehicles.

Prius, other hybrids lose Calif. carpool lane access today (USA Today)