People who rent cars at San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to save money if they rent a hybrid or high-mileage car.
The airport is launching the nation’s first green rental car program.
It rewards customers for renting alternative-fueled vehicles and rental car companies for increasing rentals of those vehicles.
The incentive program is expected to eliminate more than 4,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year, according to Mayor Gavin Newsom's office.
"San Francisco is a leader in developing creative, sustainable programs that benefit the environment," said Newsom. “The Green Rental Car program is an innovative, market-based incentive program that will produce very tangible results in a short period of time. The benefits of this program extend far and wide – travelers, rental car agencies and the environment all gain through this program."
Customers who rent hybrid cars that achieve an EPA rating of 18 or higher will receive a $15 discount at the counter.
Cars in that category include the Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid or Toyota Prius.
The rental car companies stand to benefit also.
They qualify for a 20 percent reduction of their airport rent fees if they achieve a goal of increasing the percentage of their overall transactions to 15 percent for rentals of hybrid cars or high mileage vehicles, which have an EPA rating of 17 or higher.
Cars in that category include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Focus, as well as hybrid cars.
By offering the incentives to customers and the companies, SFO officials said they hope to increase the total number of high mileage and hybrid cars in the rental fleet to more than 15 percent.
"The Green Rental Car program is the first of several green initiatives the airport is rolling out in 2009," said John L. Martin, Director of San Francisco International Airport. "We’re committed to making SFO the sustainable airport of choice for California travelers."
The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau is also publicizing the program to tour groups and conventions.
"The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau applauds SFO for their commitment to place San Francisco at the forefront of the green movement," said Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of the bureau.
SFO provides nonstop service to more than 65 US cities on 21 domestic airlines and to 32 international points on 27 international carriers.