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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed two bills late last week promoting advanced vehicle propulsion technology and giving consumers incentives to buy electric vehicles.

One of the incentives will allow plug-in electric vehicles to use high-occupancy vehicle lanes no matter how many passengers are along for the ride. This becomes effective Oct. 1 and remains in place for three years.

Meanwhile, the state is providing consumers with a $2,000 excise motor vehicle tax credit when they buy plug-in electric vehicles.

This can be utilized at the point of sale, and put on top of the $7,500 federal tax credit that already is in effect. 

The Maryland credit can be used on models titled in the state from Oct. 1 through July 1, 2014.

"This important tax credit not only helps promote the use of cleaner, more energy efficient vehicles throughout our state to help our environment, but it's an important economic development tool as well," O'Malley stated.

"We've set a bold goal of creating 100,000 new green jobs over the next several years, and investments like this new electric vehicle tax credit helps us build towards that green infrastructure that GM and others are leading the way on in Maryland," he added.

According to officials, General Motors' Chevrolet Volt will be one of the first models to be eligible for this program.

GM claims that the Volt's extended-range capability allows it to travel up to 40 miles utilizing electricity "without using gas or producing tailpipe emissions."

And once the lithium-ion battery's power is gone, the driving range can be lengthened by an engine/generator should the driver not be near any electric outlet where the battery can be recharged.

One of the three markets in which Chevrolet will start sales of the Volt will be the Washington, D.C., area, which includes part of Maryland. California and Michigan are the other two markets.

GM said there are "progressive local and state government leaders and utility partners" in each market. The automaker will start producing the car later in 2010.

"Consumer incentives such as access to HOV lanes and tax credits make a real difference in the marketplace and can drive consumers to adopt new technologies," said Tom Stephens, vice chairman of GM Global Product Operations. "GM commends Gov. O'Malley and the state of Maryland for recognizing the important role these new vehicle technologies and the Chevrolet Volt will play in addressing the energy and climate priorities of the state and our country."