Corporate Incentives for Hybrids and Alternative Cars

Do you think that only environmentalists or eco-conscious legislators want to promote smart transportation choices? Think again. A growing number of business leaders are seeing the connection between employees’ driving habits and the well being of their companies and communities. All across the country, private companies are helping employees to purchase hybrid gas-electric vehicles or to avoid driving altogether.

Hybrid Parking Spot

Any CEOs out there? Maybe these pro-hybrid companies will inspire you to add a hybrid car contribution to your employees’ compensation package. If you do, please let us know and we’ll add your company to this page.

Employee Incentives

Hyperion, a software company based in Santa Clara, Calif., offers their employees $5,000 for the purchase of a hybrid. The company has committed over $1 million a year toward the hybrid purchase incentive, enough for 250 of the company’s 2,500 employees to make a painless shift from gas-guzzler to gas-electric. CEO Godfrey Sullivan, who initiated the program, easily justifies the cost to the company. He said, “We receive an enormous amount of good will around the globe for this, far beyond the cost of the program.” Sullivan also said that the hybrid incentives help the software company effectively recruit and retain the best employees.

Beyond the bottom line, Sullivan, a hybrid driver himself, sees the intrinsic value of encouraging his employees to do the right thing. Sullivan said, “We know we’re not necessarily going to change the world through this initiative, but it’s our aim at Hyperion to get people thinking about change, about making a difference.” Less than a year into the program, 75 employees are making a difference in their new hybrids.

In Feb. 2007, Bank of America announced that it is expanding its program to reimburse $3,000 to associates purchasing a new hybrid vehicle. The program will now be available to more than 185,000 U.S.-based associates. Last June, the company introduced the program to associates living within 90 miles of the three pilot program cities, Boston, Charlotte, and Los Angeles. Associates are eligible for this reimbursement only once, and the reimbursement is subject to all applicable federal, state and local withholdings. All full-time and part-time, U.S.-based associates working at least 20 hours per week are eligible.

Anne Finucane, Bank of America chief marketing officer and head of the company’s environmental council, said, “Since the launch of the program and within the three cities where it was piloted, hybrid vehicle purchases by our associates have more than quadrupled. The program continues to expand our commitment to the environment and offers our associates a way to participate in making a difference while cutting down on their commuting costs.”

Google applies its spirit of innovation to the arena of green transportation, with its "Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Incentive Program." The company offers its full-time U.S.-based employees a $5,000 subsidy toward the purchase of a vehicle with an EPA fuel economy rating of 45 mpg or higher. Google contributes $2,500 toward leased vehicles. To qualify the vehicle must also be rated a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PZEV). Three hybrid cars qualify for the program: Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, and Honda Insight. The company places no limit on the number of employees who can take advantage of the program. Google also runs an extensive schedule of low-emission shuttle buses to and from its Silicon Valley headquarters.

In June 2009, Sony Pictures Entertainment established an employee incentive of up to $5,000 when they buy either a hybrid electric vehicle or install solar voltaic panels on their residence.

Clif Bar & Co., a manufacturer of all-natural and organic energy and nutrition foods and drinks, has launched a “Cool Commute” program for its employees. The Cool Commute incentive program pays $5,000 to employees who switch to biodiesel (B100) cars for their commutes. In addition to a cash incentive for biodiesel, Clif Bar also will pay $5,000 to its people who buy a hybrid vehicle. Along with incentives for driving more fuel-efficient cars, the Cool Commute program awards points to Clif Bar people who carpool or leave their cars at home and opt instead to walk, bike or take public transportation to work.

Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), an IT infrastructure integrator headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, has a continually evolving "Eco-Responsibility" program. For full time employees who have been with the company at least one year, the company offers a $10,000 subsidy toward the purchase of a hybrid vehicle. An avid environmentalist, Amy Rao, founder & CEO, has been driving a Honda Civic Hybrid for several years. Committed to making the workplace a rewarding and fulfilling place to work, coupled with her commitment to protecting the planet, Rao believes as a business owner, this is simply the right thing to do. Over half the employees have taken advantage of this program which has been in effect since 2004.

STMicroelectronics, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies, augments the company’s monthly automobile allowance to North America-based employees who drive fuel-efficient vehicles. (ST’s corporate headquarters are in Geneva, and their U.S. Headquarters are near Dallas, Texas.) Vehicles with fuel consumption ratings of 39.2 mpg to 46.9 mpg receive an additional $83.34 in the monthly allowance. Vehicles with 47 mpg or higher receive an additional $166.67 per month.

Outdoor apparel company Timberland in New Hampshire offers $3,000 toward hybrid purchases to any of its 6,000 employees who have worked at least two years at the company. The program was introduced in late 2004. “We want to make this as attractive as possible to our employees because we want to make a significant difference in the amount of carbon dioxide produced when our employees drive,” said Terry Kellog, who oversees the multinational company’s environmental programs.

Patagonia is giving up to $2,000 to workers who buy hybrids or alternative fuel cars. As reported in U.S. News and World Report, Coley Malloy, a public-relations coordinator for the outdoor gear company, bought a 1984 diesel Mercedes station wagon and had it retrofitted to run on recycled vegetable oil. The company grant paid most of the $2,500 retrofitting costs. Malloy has cut her gas bills down from $300 to about $70 a month. She has to buy about one tank of diesel a month—and pays $1.50 a gallon to a local businessman who collects used vegetable oil from fast-food joints and filters it for her. "It is a lot of work to get the oil and maintain the car," she admits. But it’s also fun. Whenever she drives by a big gas-guzzling SUV, "I rev my engine and let them smell the tacos."

On February 12, 2008 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established a Vehicle Purchasing Services Program (VPSP) for alternative fuel vehicles. The Program provides an incentive for Los Angeles County employees, retirees, family members, and contractors/sub-contractors to purchase “green” vehicles to help lessen the environmental impact when commuting to and from work. The program establishes pre-negotiated pricing agreements with dealerships within the County of Los Angeles; discounted pricing for the purchase or lease of alternative fuel vehicles available to all County employees, retirees, family members, and contractors/sub-contractors; and offers binding arbitration clauses to resolve disputes between participating dealerships and program participants.

DLA Piper US LLP, the second largest law firm in the world, offers its employees a $2,000 reimbursement for the purchase or lease of a hybrid car.

American Jewish Committee employees in Chicago and Los Angeles have become the first eligible staff to take advantage of the non-profit organization’s Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Bonus Program, which provides cash incentives to purchase new hybrid cars. The program is believed to be the first offer of its kind to employees of any non-profit organization in the United States. Qualifying AJC employees will receive bonus payments of $2,500 or $1,500, depending on the vehicle model.

Seattle-based Topics Entertainment, a publisher of educational learning software, established their “Eco Car Incentive Program” in 2002. Company Founder Greg James cuts $1,000 checks to any of his 55 employees who downgrade engine sizes, and doubles it if they shift from a gas-guzzling V-8 to a fuel-efficient four-cylinder. If Topics employees go hybrid, the company offers $2,000. James, who also started a carpool incentive at the company, told the Seattle Times, “We aren’t all going to turn in our cars for bikes.”

ABR, Inc., an environmental research firm in Anchorage, Alaska, pays $3.50 per day for employees who get to work under their own power (walk, ski, bike etc) and $1.75 for those who carpool. In addition, since 2003, theyhave offered $1,500 to employees who purchase hybrid vehicles that are rated at more than 45 mpg. Approximately 10% of their employees have taken advantage of this offer. The program is offered to employees working in offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks, as well as Forest Grove, Oregon and Greenfield, Massachusetts. In addition, ABR determines the amount of CO2 emissions generated in the course of business activities and purchases “carbon offsets” to mitigate these releases.

Another Anchorage firm, Ecology and Environment, Inc., offers $1 a day for employees using alternative transportation, such as the bus or a dogsled. For each day without driving, an employee is entitled to an entry in a monthly drawing for $500 and a yearly drawing of $1,000. Since the program began in 1973, the company estimates that its employees have avoided 31 million miles of driving, saved 1.7 million gallons of gasoline and avoided the release of 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

Employees of MOM’s – My Organic Market, in Rockville, Maryland, can qualify for as much as $3,000 as an incentive to purchase and continue to drive a hybrid vehicle. MOM’s employees who have been with the company for more than two years are entitled to a $1000 bonus/reimbursement of their down payment on the purchase of any car that gets an average (city/highway) of 45 mpg or more. After that, they are entitled to receive an additional bonus of $1,000 at the end of each of the two years following the first bonus, if still employed at MOM’s and owning the fuel-efficient or hybrid car. An employee must work a minimum of 1,000 hours per year to qualify for the fuel-efficient/hybrid car incentive plan.

Customer Discounts

Travelers, the second largest writer of auto and homeowners insurance through independent agents, offers a 10 percent discount on auto insurance for hybrid owners. Travelers made the discount available in 27 states with plans to roll it out in most remaining states in the coming months. Travelers is the first auto insurance company to begin implementing a discount nationally. For more information, visit hybridtravelers.com.

The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies offers an insurance discount to customers who own a hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle, including gas-electric hybrids, electric only, natural gas, ethanol, methanol, and propane. The discount amount is up to 10 percent. "Customers are opting more for vehicles with environmentally friendly hybrid or alternative-fuel engines, and that trend is expected to continue because of high gas prices and a growing number of hybrid models," said Kevin Kelso, President of Personal Lines at Farmers. "We are happy to offer drivers who are concerned about the environment a discount," added Kelso. For more information, visit farmers.com.

There is a growing trend for retailers to offer free or preferred parking to hybrid owners. Several Whole Foods stores, including locations in Chicago; Naperville, Ill.; Dallas; Toronto; and Boulder, Colo. The Chicago Tribune also reported that hybrids also get priority spots at a local Ikea and a Home Depot.

A number of hotels in California are extending hybrid perks to their customers. Hybrid-driving overnight guests at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, get free parking. The Argent Hotel in San Francisco cuts their rate for overnight parking in half—from $42.00 to $21.00—for hybrid drivers. And if you provide proof of your hybrid ownership at the Little River Inn, on the Mendocino coast three hours north of San Francisco, you only pay for one night of a two-night stay in one of their ocean-view rooms.

Hybrid-driving students, professors and staff of the University of Miami (Florida) can save up to 50 percent of their parking permit price, which can run up to $352 per year.