Hybrids for HireApril 14, 2010 By: Kirk Cassels Travel Agent
Car rental agencies are adding eco-friendly vehicles to their fleet for your clients keen on lowering their carbon footprint
Going green while renting a car is getting easier. Rental car agencies such as Enterprise, Hertz and Avis are adding hybrids and other eco-friendly options for clients keen on lowering their carbon footprints.
“Customers expect the companies that serve them to share their concerns about the environment,” Lisa Martini, public relations specialist for Enterprise Holdings, told Travel Agent. “We know the future success of our business requires us to be smart about the fuels we use and their effect on the environment and our business.”
Martini higlighted Enterprise’s commitment of a $25 million grant to The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to research alternative fuels as the company’s latest efforts in contributing to eco-friendly driving.
Enterprise Holdings—which has a network of more than 760,000 cars under the Alamo Rent a Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands—owns the world’s largest fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles: nearly 450,000 cars that average a highway fuel-efficiency rating of at least 28 miles per gallon (mpg) or better. Nearly 230,000 of these cars average 32 mpg or better and close to 425,000 have earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay certification.
Meanwhile, Hertz in September 2006 launched its Green Collection—vehicles with an estimated fuel-efficiency rating of at least 27 mpg that have achieved the EPA Smartway designation. The company currently has more than 5,000 hybrid vehicles including the Toyota Prius and Nissan Altima. In February, Hertz announced it teamed up with Nissan to bring the automaker’s “zero-emission” electric car (the Nissan Leaf) to select locations in the U.S. and Europe by early next year. The car will go on sale in Japan, the U.S. and Europe later this year.
Also on the company’s list of green initiatives is the Connect by Hertz car-sharing program, which encourages efficient use of automobile transport in select U.S. and European cities, universities and corporate campuses. Hertz estimates that up to 14 personal vehicles are taken off the streets with every shared vehicled on the road.
Avis’ latest initiative is its own partnership with Nissan to expand its fleet in the UK. In addition, it offers eToll, which provides electronic toll booth options for drivers in more cities than any other company. Along with the Garmin GPS systems for clients, the program encourages drivers to use eToll to cut emissions and save gas by saving time.
Although using GPS and eToll may not be as sexy an option as electric cars, John Barrows, Avis’ vice president of communications, points out there is no timetable yet for when electric cars will be available. He adds that hybrids are on the market to rent, but can be hard to find and expensive.
“We are left with the tendency to focus on flashy and fancy stuff that is coming out in the future,” Barrows told Travel Agent. “We’ll have the ‘Star Trek’ solution some day but until then, agents should not overlook things like electronic toll collection or GPS programs that can lower emissions by avoiding acceleration and deceleration.”