Capitol Alert

Would you buy an electric car if you could use the carpool lane alone?

An electric Fiat plugged into a charging station in a parking lot in Los Angeles.
An electric Fiat plugged into a charging station in a parking lot in Los Angeles. The Associated Press

How can California convince more drivers to go electric? Perhaps by letting them take the carpool lane.

Assembly Bill 544, which was sent to the governor’s desk on Wednesday, would extend through 2025 a decal program that allows low-emission cars into high-occupancy vehicle lanes, even when the driver is riding solo. It passed the Assembly on a 51-10 vote.

The measure, from Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, adds a few restrictions to the program, which sunsets in 2019. Owners cannot renew a decal, which expires after three years, for a vehicle that has already received one before 2017. Wealthy Californians will also have to choose between a decal and the rebate of up to $5,000 available for an electric car purchase.

With an ambitious goal of putting 1.5 million “zero-emission” vehicles on the road by 2025, California is looking for incentives that will boost electric car sales. Five years into the plan, only about 300,000 have been sold so far.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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