You see them frequently, people in hybrid cars flying solo in the carpool lane.
Those who purchase environmentally friendly cars get more than just tax breaks, they get a break during rush hour traffic as well.
The DMV issues these hybrid stickers for vehicles that meet their specified emissions standards.
They are not issued to the driver, but the vehicle itself, hybrid stickers are non-transferrable and stay with the car for it’s life.
The sticker plan
It seems that part of the reason the DMV decided to allow hybrid vehicles into the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes is because studies were showing the lanes operating at two thirds of projected capacity.
Essentially they were not relieving as much tension on busy freeways as intended. The idea behind the stickers was probably more to encourage hybrid sales than help the environment, and it worked.
The hybrid market was stimulated just as much by those who faced long daily commutes as the environmentally friendly types. Prices became inflated because of the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane benefit.
Toyota had a hard time manufacturing enough Prius hybrids to keep up with the California market.
How do you get a sticker for your hybrid?
You don’t. The DMV has already assigned the 85,000 stickers they made allowances for. It makes sense that anyone on the California market for a hybrid is probably more concerned with commute times than easing pollution.
A fact that has proven to be one of the driving forces behind the California hybrid market. 85,000 isn’t very many hybrid stickers considering how many people are of driving age in Southern California.
The select few that acted fast are not only sitting pretty during rush hour, but will also be able to sell their hybrid for more when the time comes to unload it.
Hybrid stickers and resale value
Because of the cap on sticker assignment, the new hybrid market has slowed considerably.
The drive to reduce pollution will always be important to some.
Unfortunately without freeway travel benefits it stands to reason that many will not pay the inflated prices for hybrid technology. Fewer people will rationalize the extra four or five grand when they have to sit in traffic with the rest of us.
The used hybrid market however will noticed a marked upswing. Hybrids sporting HOV-lane stickers will be worth more than gold to those who endure a big commute to make a big income.
The demand for freeway traffic relief had a huge affect on the hybrid market as a whole, imagine what it will do with only 85,000 of the hybrid stickers in circulation.
Used sticker wearing hybrids will fetch a price higher than asking prices for brand new hybrid vehicles. In fact, it will be interesting to see how Los Angeles in particular haggles and auctions the prized stickers, not to mention where they end up. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on that.
Sticker owners better sell fast though
In true bureaucratic form, the DMV put an expiration date on the hybrid stickers it had issued. The stickers expire on Jan 1 of 2008, unless the ‘program is extended’.
Whether or not they extend the program remains to be seen, the DMV is as unpredictable as it is controlling. With a possible end in sight, and its drawing ever near will affect the used hybrid market. Soon those prized stickers could end up only being worth the time it takes to get them and their adhesive off your bumper.