SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – The City of San Antonio has introduced a new program that allows hybrid-vehicle drivers to park for free at city meters, according to The Mercury News. The city’s pilot program, which has enrolled about 150 hybrid drivers since it started in May, is part of the growing national trend toward rewarding the environmentally conscious. Several cities offer similar programs. Salt Lake City and Austin score cars on how much pollution they emit on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scale. Other cities that offer some type of reduced or free-parking program for clean vehicles include San Jose, Calif., with about 1,200 people enrolled; Albuquerque, N.M., with 500; Fresno, Calif., with about 125; New Haven, Conn., with just over 100; and Baltimore, which for now only offers discounts in city parking garages, with about 25. Jennifer Watts, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Electric Drive Transportation Association, said more than 200,000 hybrids were sold in 2005, up from more than 83,000 in 2004 and over 9,300 in 2000, according to The Mercury News. report. However, these programs aren’t a positive to everyone in the industry. According to Ron DeFore, spokesman for SUV Owners of America — which represents the rights of SUV, van, minivan, and pickup truck owners — this type of program discriminates against any other type of vehicle. DeFore also said that letting hybrids with no passengers drive in some carpool lanes was also unfair. “Hybrids cost several thousand dollars more than a regular, standard vehicle. A lot of people can’t afford that. That’s discriminating against people with lesser incomes,” he said, as quoted in The Mercury News..

Originally posted on Fleet Financials