July 10, 2008
Toyota hybrid announcement timely for Norris HOV law
(NASHVILLE, TN), July 10, 2008 – State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) said today’s Toyota announcement that it will produce the hybrid Prius at its Tupelo, Mississippi plant instead of light trucks is timely for Tennesseans. This is not only because of skyrocketing fuel costs, but thanks to a new law passed by Norris allowing the Prius and other low-emission, energy-efficient vehicles to travel in Tennessee’s HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers.
“This is a timely announcement,” said Senator Norris. “While we wish the federal government would further relax requirements to allow even more vehicles to use HOV lanes, it is encouraging that we will have more hybrids manufactured here in the South actually benefiting more Tennesseans who take advantage of this new law.”
Requirements for use of HOV lanes are imposed by federal guidelines. These guidelines were recently changed to allow states under legislation like Norris’s to include low-emission and energy-efficient automobiles in addition to cars with multiple occupants. Under the new law, which goes into effect January 1, owners of qualified vehicles may apply for an identifying decal from the Department of Revenue that would allow them to travel in the HOV lanes.
“We must relieve congestion on Tennessee’s interstate highways,” Norris added. “This is one way to do it without the expense of building new roads. We are putting wasted pavement to work which, by itself, will help reduce fuel costs.” Public Chapter 1121, co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) was signed into law on June 20, 2008.
The announcement by Toyota follows a turbulent year for automakers who are suffering from higher fuel prices. Toyota also builds a hybrid Camry sedan at its plant in Kentucky. The production of the hybrid Prius in Mississippi will mark the first time that model will be built outside of Asia.