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BMW i3 BEVx Approved for Coveted Californian Green HOV-Lane Sticker (Finally)

After months of waiting, intense speculation and an almost never-ending will-it won’t-it saga, the BMW i3 REX (BEVx) range-extended variant of BMW’s four-seat i3 has been approved for California’s coveted HOV lane access program by the state’s famous Air Resources Board.

BMW's i3 REx range-extended EV now joins its sibling, the i3 EV, on the HOV-lane sticker eligibility list.

BMW’s i3 REx range-extended EV now joins its sibling, the i3 EV, on the HOV-lane sticker eligibility list.

Yesterday afternoon, in keeping with its usual update schedule, CARB’s list of HOV-lane access eligible cars was updated to include the BMW i3 REx, along with three new 2015 model year vehicles: the 2015 Fiat 500e, 2015 Nissan LEAF, and 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle.

Transitional Zero Emissions Vehicle

The BMW i3 REx, listed below its all-electric i3 EV sibling on CARB’s list, has been officially classified as a “Transitional Zero emission Vehicle.”

It’s a brand-new class of vehicle designed to include plug-in hybrids with a low-enough tailpipe emissions as well as electric cars with small on-board range-extended engine. CARB’s TZEV class replaces the previous Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) designation used by CARB to classify cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Plug-in Prius Hybrid, so all cars previously listed as AT-PZEV are now classified as TZEV vehicles.

Green HOV lane sticker ready, but only a few left

As of yesterday, anyone buying a BMW i3 REx will be able to apply for a green HOV-lane access decal, giving them single-occupancy access to California’s many miles of high-occupancy — or carpool — lanes.

But as of April 7, 2014, 38,478 of the 40,000 green stickers earmarked under Californian law for the program had been claimed, leaving just 1522 unclaimed.

California Green HOV-lane access decal

California Green HOV-lane access decal

Given the fact they have historically been claimed at a rate of around 80 to 90 stickers per day, we’re doubtful any remain at the current time.

However, the Californian legislature is currently in the process of expanding the green HOV lane access program sticker numbers, meaning that if the bills designed to expand the program are passed, i3 REx owners will benefit from the green sticker program.

A waiting game

For now then, those who are on the waiting list for an i3 REx or are considering one as their next car should be prepared for at least a small wait until the Green HOV-lane access program has more stickers to hand out. Until then, they’ll just have to drive outside the HOV lane if there’s only one person in the car — just like all the other unlucky Californians with green HOV-sticker-eligible cars that have purchased their cars in the past few weeks.

As for the usual Clean Vehicle Rebate Project purchase rebate under Californian law for those purchasing a plug-in car? At the moment, the CVRP hasn’t listed the BMW i3 REx as being certified for the program, but given the fact CARB has just approved it for HOV-lane access, expect it to be added to the $1500 rebate list for plug-in hybrids and range-extended EVs in the next few days.

If you’re on the waiting list for an i3 REx, we’d love to hear from you. Are you glad your car will finally be HOV-lane eligible? Are you frustrated that you’ll have to wait for a sticker? Do you think it will help or hinder sales?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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