Feb 23 General Motors Co is
adjusting its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt to meet strict
California requirements for a $1,500 state rebate and allow
drivers to use special carpool lanes there, the carmaker said on
Volts sold in California starting later this month will have
an additional emissions system fan to help curb tailpipe
emissions and some software changes not available on Volts sold
outside California, GM said.
The change comes at a time when Volt sales have been slow
for a car seen as a game-changer for GM. California is the
biggest U.S. auto market in general, and the biggest market for
alternative fuel vehicles.
A fourth of the 7,671 Volts GM sold in 2011 were sold in
GM said that it did not include the additional equipment for
California Volts until now because it did not want to delay the
vehicle's launch. Sales began in December 2010.
California has 1,400 miles of roads with lanes designated
for cars carrying two or more people. Volt drivers along with
drivers of other advanced-battery and zero-emissions cars can
use these lanes even if the cars are carrying only the driver.
GM says that cars on congested Southern California roads
that use the high-occupany vehicle lanes can save about 36
minutes a day in commuting time.
The ability to drive in the "HOV lanes" in California was a
boost to sales of the Prius hybrid when Toyota Motor Corp
ramped up sales of the market's dominant hybrid car.
But standard hybrids like the Prius are no longer eligible for
special stickers to allow access to HOV lanes for cars without
Toyota will next month begin selling a plug-in Prius that
will get about 15 miles on battery charge alone.
This new version of the Prius will be eligible for the
$1,500 California rebate and the HOV lane stickers.
California plans to issue up to 40,000 HOV lane stickers in
GM said that single-occupancy Volts are also eligible for
access to carpool lanes in New York, Florida and Georgia.
GM is not saying how much it will cost to add the new
equipment to each California Volt. The costs will not be passed
onto the customers because GM wants a national sales price for
the Volt, a spokesman said.
The Volt retails at $39,900 before a $7,500 federal tax
credit and the $1,500 California rebate.
GM lowered the retail price of the Volt from $41,500 on its
Shipments of the "low emissions package" Volts started last
week from GM's Detroit-Hamtrack plant.
The Volt operates for about 35 miles on battery power when
fully charged. Under this mode, there are no tailpipe emissions.
When battery power is low, a gasoline engine powers a generator
that creates power to run the electric engine, allowing the Volt
to have a range of about 380 miles, based on U.S. government