BMW buyers tend to have enough cash on hand to be buffered from the concept of "sticker shock," but the term may take on a different meaning when it comes to the German automaker's i3 plug-in vehicle and its classification by California clean-air regulators.
The first i3 EVs are set to be sold in May, and some are questioning if the new car will be eligible for the state's white stickers or green High-Occupancy Vehicle lane stickers, both of which allow for solo-occupancy in HOV lanes. California gives out white stickers to some types of battery-electric vehicles, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, and there's currently no limit on the number that can be given out. The green stickers, which are applied to other battery electrics as well as some plug-in hybrids, are limited (there are currently about 15,000 left) and will likely run out within the next year or two. The i3's status is uncertain because of it has an optional gas-powered range-extender.
Jacob Harb, head of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW, told AutoblogGreen that it's not all that complicated. The pure electric version of the i3 will get the white sticker, the REx version will get the green sticker. He also said that both will qualify for the $2,500 state incentive in California and the $7,500 federal tax credit available in all 50 states (For what it's worth, Green Car Reports says the REx version will only get $1,500 from California).
Read Autoblog's First Drive impressions of the i3 here.