The Arizona Department of Transportation is releasing more of the "clean air -- blue skies" license plates, which allow drivers to be in the HOV lane solo at any time.
When the plates first rolled out in 2007, pretty much any vehicle using an alternative energy source could get the plate, including big Chevy SUVs that had undergone propane or natural-gas conversions. Now, if you want one of the 1,800 plates being released, you have to have a certain make and model of EPA-approved plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
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The program is capped at 10,000 plates, but according to ADOT, 1,800 are now available thanks to non-renewed or canceled registrations. ADOT opened the registration for such plates today.
The license plate allows unrestricted access to HOV lanes, so a lone driver with the plate can blow past everyone in the HOV lane during rush hour.
However, the only vehicles that are eligible for the 1,800 extra plates are the following: Chevrolet Volt (2011-2014), Fisker Automotive Karma (2012), Ford C-MAX Energi (2013-2014), Ford Fusion Energi (2013-2014), Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid (2014), and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (2012-2014).
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People who already had the plate on an older Prius or Tesla get to keep their plate, as these restrictions -- which ADOT says are EPA-mandated -- only apply to new applicants.
This whole concept of letting alternative-fuel vehicles travel in HOV lanes is allowed under federal law, and that law is set to expire in fall of 2017, unless it's reauthorized.
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