In case someone will be purchasing prior to the end of the year, my understanding is that you don't have to apply for the stickers right away. One person was upset because they bought their car near the end of the year and they planned to wait until January 1st to apply for stickers so that they would get two years or whatever it was at the time. Then they found out the dealer applied for stickers for them without asking if that's what they wanted, so now they will only have stickers to the end of the year and the following year, so barely over one year. Once the stickers expire you cannot get new ones, you only get them once. The HOV lanes are really designed for HOV and they don't want them to be filled with EV and PHEV, but they want to encourage EV and PHEV purchases so they allow one set of stickers but that's it.
Yes this is true - some dealers will do the courtesy of obtaining the HOV stickers before the car is sold hoping that customers will be lured into a car that can be driven off the lot and hop onto a HOV freeway lane without waiting for a few months....
My dealer routinely orders HOV stickers ahead of customers but when I negotiated my Clarity deal, I had them make sure they did not order stickers for the car before I took delivery.
My dealer said they get the red stickers but I wanted the newer purple HOV stickers.
The advantage of that meant when I applied in 2019, I got a full 4 years of HOV exemption instead of the 3yrs if the dealer had gotten them.
The other advantage I got was that the dealer was able to pull a new incoming Clarity fresh off the boat instead of a car that may have sat around for months with the HOV sticker already on it.
My car was manufactured in early December 2018 and delivered to the port in early January 2019.
The dealer had pulled that car off the boat, did the VPC and got it my hands super quick!