Californians wanting to gain single-occupancy access to the state’s high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes now have twice as many eligible cars to choose from when buying their next vehicle. 

Yesterday, Ford announced that its 2013 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid has met the standards set out by the state to qualify for Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT PZEV) status.

This means those buying a 2013 C-Max Energi in the state will be eligible to apply for a Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker, giving them access to carpool lanes, even if they’re the only person in the car. 

The C-Max Energi becomes the third car on California’s AT PZEV list, alongside 2013 Chevrolet Volts fitted with GM’s Low Emissions Package, and 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Certified by the EPA at 100 MPGe combined, the $33,745 2013 C-Max Energi beats both cars in terms of economy, but its 21-mile all-electric range places it in second place behind the Volt.

As well as being classified as HOV-Lane eligible, the 2013 C-Max Energi also earns owners a $1,500 purchase rebate under the state’s plug-in car incentive program

When combined with the $3,750 federal tax credit available for those who buy the 2013 C-Max Energi, the car’s effective price drops by $5,250--although it should be noted that both rebates have to be applied for independently after purchase. 

A quick check on CARB’s eligible vehicle list also reveals something else: the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi--Ford’s plug-in hybrid sedan due to launch early next year--is also listed as being eligible for HOV lane access. 

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Since it shares the same engine, battery pack, and drivetrain as the 2013 C-Max Energi, it’s also likely that it will be eligible for the same California state rebates as the C-Max Energi, although this has yet to be confirmed. 

Although California’s Green Clean Vehicle Sticker program has a maximum allocation of 40,000 cars, only 5,600 Californians have taken advantage of the program to date. 

If you’ve just ordered a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi, however, make sure you remember to apply for HOV-lane stickers before driving in the HOV lane on your own: without them, you’ll get ticketed. 


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