Helping Employees Into Hybrids
By David Batstone

(Business 2.0) – Commuting to a job can be a pricey proposition these days. To ease the pain, three major companies are awarding cash bonuses to employees who buy fuel-efficient cars.

Hyperion Solutions jump-started the trend last year with its Drive Clean to Drive Change program. Employees get $5,000 when they purchase cars with EPA ratings of 45 miles per gallon or better. The Santa Clara, Calif., software company promises to distribute the bonuses to as many as 200 employees annually on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone who has worked at Hyperion for at least a year is eligible, and veterans can reapply every four years. So far 75 employees have taken advantage of the program, and Hyperion has set up a how-to guide on its website for other companies looking to launch fuel-saving initiatives. "Our employees care about global warming and the impact of their commutes," says Godfrey Sullivan, Hyperion's president and CEO. "We wanted to do something innovative to help them."

Just months after Hyperion launched its program, Google and Timberland also announced hybrid incentive programs. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., offers its workforce a two-tier bonus system: $5,000 for buying a new hybrid car and $2,500 for leasing one. Timberland, the New Hampshire company known for its hiking boots, gives its employees $3,000 toward the purchase of a hybrid. Betsy Blaisdell, Timberland's manager of environmental stewardship, says the earth-friendly perk fits snugly into the corporate culture: "We are all outdoorsy people who want to preserve the places we enjoy."