Now you can rent a “green” vehicle.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc. has announced Thursday last week that it will spend $68 million to add 3,400 Toyota Prius hybrids to its fleets by 2008. Avis Budget Group Inc. meanwhile will be making 1,000 hybrid Prius vehicles available for rent as early as this week.
“This is a first step,” Brian Chee, an automotive analyst for Autobytel.com’s soon to be launched Web site MyRide.com said. “It’ll be interesting to see if the rental car companies continue this. Like other companies, they’re making a ‘green’ statement, and this is a good way to do it.” Chee believes that even with the fleet expansions, hybrid vehicles still represent a small part of rental car fleets.
By replacing 1,000 of its ordinary rental cars with the gas-electric Prius models equipped of course with top of the line Toyota parts; Hertz said it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 3,000 tons per year.
“Today’s announcement highlights the next step in what is already a multiyear effort by Hertz to promote environmental sustainability throughout the company,” Mark Frissora, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said at Thursday’s announcement.
“As a global leader in car rentals, we recognize our unique opportunity and obligation to promote environmental practices and give our customers environmentally friendly options.”
Hertz’s hybrid vehicles will be available for rent at 50 of the company’s U.S. airport locations, with 100 of them reserved for its New York City fleet – where the stop-and-go flow of Manhattan traffic provides an ideal driving environment for the hybrids, allowing them to mainly operate off of their electric motors.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the greater availability of hybrid rental cars is in line with his city’s goal to reduce its emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030.
“These hybrid cars really put Hertz in the driver’s seat … in meeting one of the greatest challenges of our time, which is global warming,” Bloomberg told the gathering at the Museum of Natural History.
According to John Barrows, a spokesman for Avis, his company will offer Prius hybrids in its California, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Washington, D.C., markets but may expand the locations in the future based on consumer demand. Avis is also said to be putting its faith on the Prius rentals which they believe will not only appeal to travelers, but those interested in buying a hybrid.
“Obviously we have customers who want them,” he said. “And there are other people out there who are interested in purchasing a hybrid but really want to check one out before buying one.”
Chee added that the rentals offer Toyota Motor Corp. a chance to showcase the Prius, as well as give potential buyers a chance to decide if a hybrid is right for them, “It shows Toyota’s confidence that it’ll win over fans when they don’t have to buy it.”
Enterprise Rent-A-Car also operates a fleet of more than 3,000 hybrid vehicles, in addition to 41,000 flex-fuel cars and light trucks that can run on ethanol-based fuel, the company said.