A proposed new law would give some hybrid-vehicle owners access to California’s coveted commuter lanes — and the CEO of Ford Motor Co. is feeling left out.
bill, introduced by Rep. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would issue
75,000 permits to the owners of hybrid vehicles which meet specific
state and federal emission standards and get 45 miles per gallon;
currently, that’s only the Toyota Prius, and the Honda
Insight and hybrid Civic. The three-year permits would allow lone
drivers to use carpool lanes and cross certain bridges toll-free or
with reduced rates.
Later this summer, Ford plans to begin
selling the 2005 Escape Hybrid, its first hybrid vehicle. But there
won’t be any room for Escape drivers in carpool lanes:
"Earth’s First and Only Full Hybrid SUV" gets between 29 and
36 miles per gallon.
So in an Aug. 16 letter to Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, R, Bill Ford urged the governor to veto the
bill if it passes the Legislature. He wrote: "AB 2628 puts our
workers and shareholders at a competitive disadvantage precisely
when Ford is entering the hybrid market with a family-oriented, no
compromise SUV. Ford would not consider asking the California
Legislature to support a ‘Buy American law.’ We are
chagrined to see that AB 2628 amounts to a ‘Buy