Just a few years ago, if you wanted a high-quality hybrid car to serve all your daily family needs, Toyota was really the only dance in town. The company’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system was so far ahead of competition during the 2000s that it almost wasn’t fair to call a Prius and, say, an early Ford Escape Hybrid by the same title at all.
Posts Tagged ‘California’
Even though gas prices are thankfully down in 2013 from last year’s levels, motorists in the U.S. still spend a significant portion of their incomes just to fill up. Gasoline is taxed at the Federal, state and local levels, with revenue going predominately toward infrastructure maintenance. But as cars become more efficient, total revenues are falling. Gas taxes have stayed relatively flat for decades, but that may all change soon, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.
Thinking of picking up an electric car, plug-in hybrid or other alternative-fuel vehicle? If you’re in California, this applies to you: the CA State Legislature will soon vote on a bill to extend solo access to the state’s large network of carpool HOV lanes for these clean-driving vehicles through 2025.
Though the old Yellow Clean Air Vehicle stickers for hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius have expired, California motorists are now eligible for either Green or White Clean Air Vehicle stickers. The green ones are for plug-in hybrids (Prius Plug-In) and range-extending EVs (Fisker Karma), while the white stickers apply to battery-electrics (Ford Focus Electric), as well as natural gas (Honda Civic Natural Gas) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (Honda FCX Clarity). Both programs are currently slated to expire in 2015.
If the vote passes, the alt-car incentive program will go forward through Jan. 1, 2025. Here is a list of all cars eligible for CA carpool solo access.
Among the myriad of small changes to laws around the country going into effect Jan. 1, 2013, Californians can now legally text while driving… if they are using hands-free device, that is.
Changes to the vehicle code allow you to use your phone or in-car infotainment system’s voice-to-text feature to send and receive texts and emails while driving, as long as you’re not actually typing them out.
From Section 23123.5 of the CA DMV Vehicle Code, with the new-for-2013 exceptions in bold:
(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call or if a person otherwise activates or deactivates a feature or function on an electronic wireless communications device.
The phrases “specifically designed and configured” and “activates or deactivates a feature” seem to leave open some room for interpretation, or the discretion of the officer, but be smart: if you must text, use your phone’s or car’s voice-activated features. Better still, get to a safe place to pull over, conclude your business, and be on your way.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has put in to motion a plan to offer vintage-reissue “legacy” license plates using classic designs from the 1950s through the 1980s.
The black-on-yellow license plates were in circulation from 1956 to 1962, the yellow-on-black from 1963 to 1969, and the yellow-on-blue plates from 1970 to 1982. For a personalized plate fee of $50, the CA DMV is now taking pre-orders for any of the three classic designs, allowing for a period-correct look for your classic ride without going through the cost and bureaucratic hoops of finding and obtaining approval for old-stock plates.
If the Department receives 7,500 pre-orders by Jan. 1, 2015, the retro plates will be issued for $50 in addition to the cost of registration. Renewing registration will cost an extra $40. If the 7,500-unit target is not met, all who pre-ordered will receive a refund, and the plates will not be printed.
The program has raised some eyebrows from die-hard classic car enthusiasts, who maintain that only a true “California car” in continuous circulation should have the right to display classic CA plates. Still, a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang with modern red-on-white plates just doesn’t look right, so consider us on-board. Here’s a little history on California license plates from the CA DMV.