Stand your ground on hybrid car rentals

Hybrid cars aren’t as hard to rent as you may think. Enterprise, the largest rental car agency in the United States, has 7,000 in its fleet. Sure, it’s only 1 percent of all the wheels they make available, but it’s a hell of a start. If you want to put yourself in the driver’s seat on your next trip, plan ahead.

First, you have to do some hunting. Cruise the rental car agency websites for green listings. Or, you can head over to Kayak, which has the largest listing of hybrid cars on the web. Don’t give up. Remember, you’re looking for 1 percent of the rental cars out there (maybe less).

Next, be ready to get tough. If you get to the counter and are told that there aren’t any more in stock, you have options. Ask for another vehicle – temporarily – until the next hybrid comes in. Get specific: demand a date. Make it clear that you won’t back down. If the desk agent won’t be able to deliver the hybrid you reserved, make sure you’re given a coupon for a future rental or some other form of compensation. Most of the rental car agencies make promises. It’s your job, unfortunately, to hold them accountable.

Finally, screw the rental car agencies. You have options! Head over to the local Toyota dealership. You can rent a hybrid starting at $50 a day, and you may actually get better service (such as free shuttle service from the airport).

Enterprise adds 5000 hybrid cars to their rental fleet

People are apparently not renting cars as often as they used to. But while some car rental firms are closing up shop, others are taking those lemons and making “green lemonade”.

Enterprise rent-a-car just announced a massive expansion to their hybrid rental fleet.

The chain is adding 5000 new hybrid vehicles, and expanding their “hybrid branch” lineup. Already, 27 Enterprise locations offer online and phone reservations of a hybrid vehicle, and that number is set to rise to 80 within a couple of months.

The Enterprise hybrid lineup offers the Ford Escape, Toyota Prius and the Toyota Camry.

Sadly, being green comes at a price. A regular airport rental with Enterprise (for a standard car) is about $30/day, but to protect the environment in a hybrid, you’ll pay about $70/day. Ouch.

Still, it’s nice to see a major rental company making a difference, and it is always great when customers at least have the option to rent green.

Enterprise receives highest rank for rental car companies. What are the others?

According to J.D. Power and Associates, the company that conducts a survey on customer satisfaction with rental cars, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car came out ahead. Good for Enterprise. This is the fifth consecutive win for this company. They are the only company to receive a 5 out of 5.

Other top rankers-with 4 out of 5, are Hertz and Alamo. Maybe Alamo listened to customer complaints because that company improved its service since 2007.

What makes great car rental service? Car companies were ranked according to “cost and fees, pickup process, rented car, return process, reservation process, and shuttle van/bus” according to this summary at MotorTrend. Cost and fees were what most people were after.

One in ten people report a problem at the rental desk which is a problem in today’s economy when less business people are traveling. Keeping customers satisfied is one way to increase their likelihood of returning.

The companies that ranked 2 out of 5 from bad to worse are:

  • Thrifty
  • Dollar
  • Payless
  • Advantage Rent A Car
  • Fox Rent A Car

The photo is of Enterprise’s hybrid fleet, perhaps another item that makes customers satisfied.