California HOV lane

There's a bit of a traffic jam building for those High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) stickers designed to help plug-in hybrid vehicle drivers in California avoid, uh, traffic jams. The stickers in question are of the green variety and they're doled out by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to let such drivers cruise down the HOV lanes solo. And they're running out. Fast.

Of the 40,000 green stickers slated for distribution, more than 36,200 were spoken for by March 12, Inside EVs says. And with 8,000 stickers getting gobbled up since the beginning of the year, the rest will likely be gone by tax day. That monthly rate is a far cry from 2012, when less about 500 green stickers were being given out to a then-smaller contingent of plug-in drivers. Ever-green, no more.

"The car pool lane stickers have been a significant incentive," said Plug In America Chief Science Officer Tom Saxton. He added that the group would try to work with the state at further expanding such incentives for plug-in vehicle drivers. CARB representatives didn't immediately respond to a request from AutoblogGreen for comment.

CARB does have an unlimited number of white stickers, which are earmarked for zero-emissions vehicles, but the green-sticker dilemma is especially relevant for automakers such as BMW, which has not yet started selling its i3 plug-in vehicle. While the pure battery-electric version will get the white sticker, there will also be i3s with a gas-powered range-extender on board (i.e. the REx version). And while Bimmer tried to keep those gas motors small enough to possibly qualify for white stickers (by making the gas range is smaller than the electric range), that didn't work. BMW told AutoblogGreen that all REx i3s will qualify for the green stickers when it arrives this summer, but if there are no stickers left, then it's a moot point.