California commuters have a new weapon in the war against traffic.  The Chevy Volt, a hybrid offered by GM, is being shipped to the state with a new $1,500 rebate as an incentive to new buyers.  Not only that, but with federal tax credits, buyers of new Volts stand to get up to $8,500 off the price of a new vehicle. 

Although 2011 sales for the Volt were well below forecasts due to some problems discovered during crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Highway Administration has closed its investigation and given the Volt a clean bill of health.  The new Volts are expected to arrive in dealerships in California by the end of February.

The Chevy Volt last year was introduced amidst much fanfare.  Considered the most advanced hybrid on the road yet, the Volt can travel up to 50 miles without using any gasoline, at which point the gasoline engine kicks in to provide up to 300 additional miles of range. 

But the biggest draw for many Volt buyers?  The fact that you can legally drive in the carpool lane with one—without actually carpooling with anyone.  The Volt is one of the rare exceptions allowed in the HOV commuter lanes with only a single passenger. 

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