December, 2007: The Los Angeles City Council voted to extend free parking to hybrid vehicles at city meters until January 1, 2011. Unfortunately, there’s a hitch… Fewer vehicles qualify.
While tax credits are still available for buyers of many hybrid vehicles, Toyotas are now exempt. In an effort to promote equity among automobile manufacturers, congress limited the number of tax credits per company. Toyota is the sales leader, and has exceeded the limit.
The state of California no longer offers Clean Air Vehicle decals which allow driver-only use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Of course, not all hybrids qualified for the decals in the first place; only Toyota’s Prius, Honda’s Insight and Civic Hybrid. Vehicles with valid decals are still permitted to use the HOV lanes, but the privilege may be revoked at any time.
Los Angeles offered free parking at meters for all hybrid vehicles for several years. The recent vote now excludes all vehicles not displaying Clean Air Vehicle decals.
Used vehicles with valid decals command a premium estimated at $4,000 above the price for non-decal vehicles. The recent parking qualification should increase the popularity of used cars with decals. Expect fewer privileges as hybrid vehicles become more common.
Author’s Note: Please abide by the posted time limit at any parking meter—free doesn’t mean unlimited.