PHOENIX — On May 20, the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division created another opportunity for specific hybrid vehicle owners to obtain one of the “Clean Air – Blue Skies” Energy Efficient license plates. At the time of the release of the latest series of plates, there were six initial vehicles on the qualifying list and now three additional vehicles have since been added.
The federal program, which began in 2007 as a pilot, is designed to test the impact of allowing 10,000 hybrid vehicles to have access to the HOV lanes in Arizona during peak travel times without occupancy restrictions. The maximum limit of 10,000 plates is still part of program stipulations; there are 1,800 of the special plates now available as a result of non-renewed or canceled registrations.
Until Sept. 30, 2017, states may allow low emission vehicles, and those certified and labeled as low emission and energy-efficient vehicles (including alternative fuel vehicles) that do not meet the established occupancy requirements to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes so long as the state establishes procedures to enforce the restrictions on the use by these vehicles.
The program requirements for qualifying vehicles remain the same as announced on May 20, limited to only plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the federal authority that establishes the certification and labeling requirements for low emission and energy-efficient vehicles. When vehicles are added to the qualifying list, ADOT will immediately update Arizona’s qualifying list.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles may be driven for a longer period of time on solely electric power, reducing both the amount of fuel consumed and tailpipe emissions released compared to normal hybrid vehicles. Reduced vehicle pollution supports the purpose of the “Clean Air – Blue Skies” program by encouraging the use of low-emission vehicles to improve the air quality in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
To qualify for the Energy Efficient plate, a customer must own one of the following plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from specific model years, which must be currently registered at the time of application: Chevrolet Volt (2011-2014), Fisker Automotive Karma (2012), Ford C-MAX Energi (2013-2014), Ford Fusion Energi (2013-2014), Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid (2014), and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (2012-2014). The following vehicles have been added to the qualifying list: BMW i3 Range Extender (2014), Cadillac ELR (2014) and the Porsche Panamera S E Hybrid (2014).
If qualified, the vehicle owner must complete the online Energy Efficient plate application process located only on ServiceArizona.com and submit a payment of $8 (initial application fee) plus postage and handling. Plates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Energy Efficient plates will not be distributed at Motor Vehicle Division or Authorized Third-Party offices. The standard Arizona vehicle license tax applies to all plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Those with a temporary registration paper plate or permit are not eligible until the owner actually receives an issued license plate.
After completing the Energy-Efficient license plate application and the customer chooses to have the disability emblem added, the customer must complete a Disability-Hearing Impaired Plate/Placard Application found at the MVD forms library. The completed application form must be mailed to: Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division-Special Plates Unit; P.O. Box 2100-Mail Drop 801Z; Phoenix 85001-2100.
Customers with a vehicle that qualified under the previous program (Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight and non-plug-in Toyota Prius) and is currently registered with an Energy Efficient plate will be allowed to continue to use their plate on that vehicle and drive in the HOV lane until they sell/transfer the vehicle. The Energy Efficient issued plate may only be transferred to a qualifying plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that is owned or leased by the same registered owner.
Drivers are reminded that this is a federal- and state-approved program that could be changed or ended at any time. For more information on the Energy Efficient Plate Program, application process and qualifying vehicles, please visit the ADOT Motor Vehicle Division website at azdot.gov/mvd.