Flex Fuel Vehicles in the HOV Lane
Flex Fuels & FFVs 101:
Flex fuel “this”, flex fuel “that”, we’ve all heard the term, but what does it really mean? What is a “Flex Fuel”? What does a Flex Fuel do? A Flex Fuel is a blended fuel that provides better fuel efficiency than a single fuel product. The most common and productive Flex Fuel is comprised of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol; better known as E85. Ethanol has been proven to be more environment-friendly, renewable, has a high-octane, reduces carbon monoxide, greenhouse gases, and other emissions; burns cleaner, and contains 35% oxygen. Other studies have shown that Methanol, M85, can be a suitable Flex-Fuel as well. Nonetheless, E85 has shown to be much more successful as a Flex Fuel. Flex Fuels are sometimes confused with Bi-fuels, which are stored in two separate tanks within a vehicle and consumed one at a time. The engine of Flex Fuel Vehicles, FFVs; are specially designed to use more than one fuel; the combined fuels are stored within the same fuel tank. The United States and Europe own the world’s largest inventory of FFVs; the U.S is estimated to have approximately 25 million FFVs in current use, ranging from motorcycles to light duty trucks, or pickup trucks.
Riding the HOV Lane:
What is an HOV Lane? No, it’s not some military codename for God-knows-what. HOV is the acronym for ‘High-Occupancy-Vehicle’, and ‘lane’ simply refers to the good ol’ fashioned, ‘carpool-lane’. Why the name change?—Beats me; maybe HOV lane just sounds more 21st century; nonetheless, the purpose of the HOV lane has not changed. HOV lanes were designed to reduce traffic and harmful vehicle emissions such as exhaust fumes; which contributes greatly to air pollution and ultimately further damaging the Ozone Layer. So how do HOV lanes work? The original 20th century carpool lanes were designated highway/freeway lanes specifically for use by vehicles carrying a minimum of two or more passengers. The concept was; if more people would commute together, it would reduce the number of vehicles traveling on the highway/freeway, and in the process, also reduce the release of harmful vehicle emissions and air pollution previously mentioned. Perhaps now we see how Flex Fuel Vehicles can have a successful effect on the HOV lane. HOV lanes are usually additional lanes added onto expressways rather than pre-existing lanes that were converted into an HOV lane. Today, law enforcement officers and state highway patrol officers are becoming increasingly strict in ticketing violators illegally using an HOV lane by issuing fines in excess of $500.
Flex Fuel Vehicles in the HOV Lane:
Now that we know what Flex Fuels, FFVs, and HOV Lanes are; we can begin to farther examine and explore the positives of FFVs using HOV lanes. Nowadays, more and more auto manufacturers are designing and building various types of Flex Fuel Vehicles which can include; Hybrids, public transportation vehicles such as buses, hotel shuttles, commercial vans, and cabs. Motorcycles and mopeds are also on the rise as FFVs. HOV lanes are usually marked or labeled as ‘HOV+2’, ‘carpool’ or with a ‘diamond’ emblem. HOV lanes and Flex Fuel Vehicles are not limited to the United States; FFVs and HOV lanes are in wide use and increasing across the world in places like; Canada, Europe, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand—this is a global effort.
In some states, such as Maryland; residents are encouraged to purchase Flex Fuel Vehicles and use HOV lanes through incentives. These incentives range from receiving exemptions on Emissions inspections, discounts for buying a Flex Fuel Vehicle, state and federal tax credits, and unlimited access and usage of HOV lanes, even if they’re traveling alone, as well as auto insurance discounts for driving “Green Vehicles” and Flex Fuel Vehicles.
In closing; we can summarize that Flex Fuel Vehicles using HOV Lanes positively effect “environment-friendliness”, efforts, adheres to the Clean Air Act, reduces traffic congestion, increases fuel economy, encourages consumers/residents to “think-green”, and may even reduce the cost of fuel. The bottom line is—FFVs in the HOV lane has been a successful campaign.
Ø Fun Fact – The Ford Model-T was actually the first Flex Fuel Vehicle!