What Cars Qualify for Carpool Lane HOV Stickers in California?

You have probably noticed an increased number of cars blazing past you in the carpool lanes in Southern California. There is nothing  more frustrating than being stuck in traffic and watching other cars moving freely by. It is not your fault you have no one to carpool with, right? Well, you may be interested to learn that there are certain vehicles that qualify for HOV stickers, even with solo drivers! This means you can drive to work all by yourself and take advantage of that coveted lane that is never congested. Talk about having the best of both worlds!

Yellow CAV Stickers

The first thing you should know is that your average hybrid vehicle that uses gasoline and an electric motor is no longer eligible for an HOV sticker, unless they meet basic carpool requirements. The original hybrid CAV decal program with the yellow stickers ended on 1 July 2011. However, like the rest of the population, as long as you have two occupants, you are still eligible to use the lane as long as you have a valid sticker. It should be noted that there are certain areas that require three occupants during specific posted hours, the El Monte Busway is a good example.

White CAV Stickers

White carpool tags are issued to cars that do not use any gasoline. These vehicles are powered by natural gas, hydrogen fuel or an electric battery. These are some of the most popular vehicles on the road right now in Orange County, not only be environmental enthusiasts, but also by those who are tired of spending all their hard-earned money at the gas station. To be eligible for one of these stickers, the vehicle has to meet strict criteria, including:

  • Meet the state’s super ultra-low emission vehicle standard for exhaust emissions.
  • Meet federal inherently low-emission vehicle evaporative emission standards.
  • Models from 2004 or older must meet the ultra-low emission vehicle exhaust emission standard as well as the federal inherently low-emission vehicle standards for evaporative emissions.
  • Be an Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle

Some of the vehicles that are eligible for white stickers,  include:

  • 2014 – Chevy Spark EV
  • 2013 – Fiat 500e, Ford Focus EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEv, Nissan Leaf, Honda Clarity FCV, Honda Fit EV, Smart Fortwo Electric, Tesla Model S, Toyota RAV4 EV, Scion I Q EV
  • 2012 – Ford Focus, Electric, Honda Civic Natural Gas, Mercedes-Benz F-Cell, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf SL, Nissan Leaf SV, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model S3, Toyota RAV4 EV
  • 2011 – BMW ActiveE, Honda Civic GX, Honda FCX Clarity, Mercedes-Benz F-Cell, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster, Toyota FCHV-adv
  • 2010 – Honda FCX Clarity, Honda Civic GX, Tesla Roadster, Toyota FCHV-adv
  • 2009 – Honda Civic GX, Honda FCX Clarity, Tesla Roadster Type 001, Toyota FCHV-adv
  • 2008 – BMW Mini-E, Chevy Equinox Fuel Cell, Honda Civic GX, Honda FCX Clarity, Tesla Roadster Type 001
  • 2007 – Honda Civic GX, Nissan X-Trail Fuel Cell Vehicle, Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle
  • 2006 –GMC Sierra 2500HD 2/4WD, Honda Civic GX
  • 2005 – GMC Sierra 2500HD 2/4WD, Honda Civic GX
  • 2004 – Ford Crown Victoria, Ford E-250/350 Van, Honda Civic GX, Honda FCX, Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid
  • 2003 – Ford Crown Victoria, Honda FCX, Honda Civic GX, Toyota RAV4 EV, Toyota FCHV-adv
  • 2002 –Honda Civic GX, Nissan Altra EV, Toyota RAV4 EV
  • 2001 – Ford Crown Victoria, Honda Civic GX, Solectria Citivan, Solectria Force, Toyota Camry CNG, Toyota RAV4 EV
  • 2000 – Ford Crown Victoria, Ford Electric Ranger, Honda Civic GX, Nissan Hypermini, Nissan Altima EV, Solectria Citivan, Solectria Force, Toyota Camry CNG, Toyota RAV4 EV

Green CAV Stickers

Green CAV stickers are only issued to the first 40,000 applicants who lease or purchase a vehicle that meets the Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle requirements set by the state. This category includes plug-in gas/electric hybrid vehicles. Some that are eligible, include:

  • 2014 – Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid
  • 2013 – Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi, Toyota Prius Plug-In
  • 2012 – Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Qualifying vehicles must:

  • Meet stringent tailpipe emission standards set by California.
  • Have zero evaporative emissions.
  • Have a 15-yr/150,000-mile warranty on emission systems.
  • Have a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty on the emission energy storage system.

New green stickers became available 1 January 2012, and will remain valid through 1 January 2015. Remember there are a limited supply, so now is the perfect time to make the switch to a more earth-friendly vehicle. Most people don’t realize what a huge impact one smart and thoughtful decision has on the world, but if you stop and think of all the vehicles on the road at any given time in California, then you will realize that every person who makes a positive change will help reduce pollution. The more people that make these smart decisions, the healthier the environment will be; this is why they are called “smart” cars.