Electric vehicles now permitted to drive on HOV lanes in B.C.

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Electric vehicle drivers in British Columbia will now be able to use any of the province’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, without any passengers.

The announcement was made at the GLOBE Conference today held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, which was also attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and most of Canada’s provincial premiers ahead of tomorrow’s First Ministers’ Conference.

The new policy is effective immediately, but drivers of eligible electric vehicles must obtain a decal from the provincial government and display it on their vehicle at all times. Only fully electric vehicles are eligible, defined as battery electric, fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid electrics. Hybrid gas-electric motor vehicles that cannot plug-in do not qualify.

Signs on HOV lanes will be changed to show that electric vehicle drivers can now use the special lanes.

“British Columbians are increasingly embracing alternative and greener transportation options,” said Clark. “And we can encourage even more by making it easier and more efficient, like allowing electric vehicle owners to use HOV lanes, regardless of occupancy requirements.”

For everyone else driving motor vehicles that use combustible engines, the current law that requires drivers to have at least one passenger to be able to the use the HOV lane is still enforced.

During the conference’s opening session, Clark also announced $11.9 million in funding to promote clean energy vehicles, clear air, and clean water. Another $7 million will be spent to install more electric vehicle charging stations and fund incentive programs that encourage people to consider electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Drivers who procure or lease an electric vehicle could receive incentives of up to $5,000, increasing to $8,250 when combined with vehicle scrapping incentives.

As well, Clark is also introducing a $77,000 cap on the retail cost of any clean energy vehicle in an effort to make these vehicles more affordable to consumers. Any vehicles that are above this cap will not be eligible for the incentives.

The provincial government says it has funnelled more than $31 million into its Clean Energy Vehicle program since launching it in 2011. In December at the United Nations’ Paris climate talks, B.C. signed a zero-emission vehicle pledge, effectively making the province the 14th member of the Zero Emission Vehicle Alliance. The province joins other jurisdictions such as California, Oregon, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

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