Fans of the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius now have another reason to look forward to purchasing one, with news coming out this week that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a measure allowing up to 40,000 more motorists in the state of California to drive solo in carpool lanes.

The bill, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by automakers like GM, would provide thousands of permits for new models of fuel-efficient cars like the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf. Additionally, the bill will also extend the lifespan for existing permits for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Many lawmakers actually oppose the new measure, claiming the carpool lanes were already busy enough, but supporters argued successfully that the bill was needed due to the influx of new cars packed with technology that was not available when the state began permitting fuel-efficient cars to use carpool lanes.

Previously, the Chevrolet Volt was being excluded from use of the carpool lanes. This is especially good news for motorists in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, who have to deal with the greatest congestion.

Now, if only the automakers could hurry up and get their new green offerings into showrooms.

[Los Angeles Times]