A California company is offering its employees what it believes is a first-of-its-kind perk: $5,000 towards the purchase of a car that gets 45 miles per gallon or better.
Hyperion, a software company based in Silicon Valley, on Monday launched the program, describing it as a great way to combat global warming, clean the air and retain employees.
“Companies and individuals have extraordinary power to make a difference,” Hyperion CEO Godfrey Sullivan said in a statement announcing the initiative. “One of the most important steps an individual can take to improve the quality of our air is to drive a vehicle that goes further on a gallon or liter of gas. One of the most important steps a company can take is to help them.”
Several gas-electric hybrids, such as Toyota's Prius and Honda's 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.
Looking for partners
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."
In a letter to potential partners, Sullivan reflected on his company's philosophy.
“We know we are not necessarily going to change the world through this initiative," he wrote, "but it's our aim at Hyperion to get people thinking about change, about making a difference.”
Background on the initiative is online at www.hyperion.com/driveclean.