Pardee Homes gets a lot of mileage marketing its environmental and energy conservation image to home buyers in Southern California and Nevada. Now, the company will get even better mileage as it replaces leased vehicles with hybrid gas-electric cars.
As leases come due on company cars, Pardee will phase in 10 Ford Escape Hybrids as its couriers' leases expire. Nine of the hybrids were put on the road and another was on order in early January. The company uses couriers at its Los Angeles headquarters and at regional offices in California and Las Vegas, and some log up to 2,000 miles a month.
"It seemed like a good way to show that we practice what we preach," says Pardee's Debi Pitts. It was her idea to try hybrids and the experiment would have been bigger, "but our customer service people need vans and there weren't any available to us."
Automakers from Chevy to Porsche are getting into the hybrid SUV field. Pickup trucks are available today, and hybrid minivans are expecting the next couple of years.
For now, the payoff will be more symbolic — logos on the doors and bragging rights to bolster the company's image. The Escapes' 36/31 MPG for city/highway driving didn't justify the added cost of the unconventional leases, Pitts says.
Executives including Randy Myers, senior vice president of construction and Joyce Mason, vice president of marketing, liked the idea, Pitts says. Mike McGee, president and CEO of Pardee Homes, said the company will now "drive the talk" of being green and sustainable.