PORTSMOUTH, NH — From California to the East Coast, companies are offering a new type of perk for employees: hybrid car bonuses, according to the Web site, www.Seacoastonline.com/. The latest company to begin offering employees incentives to purchase fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles is Stratham NH-based Timberland, a specialist in the design, engineering and marketing of footwear, apparel, and accessories. The company is offering a $3,000 grant for any of its 6,000 employees to help them get of one of the new hybrid vehicles. Currently offered by Honda, Toyota, and Ford, the vehicles combine electric motors and gasoline engines to generate fuel economy ratings in some cases exceeding 50 miles per gallon. Timberland will allow its employees to put the money toward any hybrid vehicle – including the new Ford Escape SUV – that meets Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency standards. "We want to make this as attractive as possible to our employees," said Terry Kellogg, who oversees the multinational company's environmental programs, "because we want to make a significant difference in the amount of carbon dioxide produced when our employees drive." Last November, Hyperion, a software company based in Silicon Valley, began offering its employees $5,000 toward the purchase of a car that receives 45 miles per gallon or better, according to MSNBC. The company describes the incentive as a great way to combat global warming, clean the air, and retain employees. Several gas-electric hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic and Insight, are rated at better than 45 mpg by the Environmental Protection Agency. Electric cars, which are not easily available, would also qualify since they use no fossil fuel. Even some of the new, cleaner diesels could meet the standard, the company said. Of particular concern to Hyperion is reducing fossil-fuel emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that many scientists tie to global warming. Doubling one's car mileage to 45 mpg can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as three tons per person per year, Hyperion noted. The EPA estimates per person annual emissions of CO2 is 22 tons. Hyperion has 2,600 employees and anyone with more than a year at the company can qualify. The company said it will fund up to 200 employees each year and that reimbursements are on a first-come, first-served basis. Hybrids and diesels are typically several thousand dollars more expensive than gasoline peers. A federal income tax deduction is available on new purchases of hybrids, but the amount is gradually being reduced. The software maker said it hoped other companies would emulate its program, and promised to share what it has learned with others. “Since we just announced it this morning, we have not yet learned of any other companies who plan to emulate it,” said Hyperion spokesman Bob Schettino, “but we will publish periodic updates on the program.”

Originally posted on Fleet Financials