Green is finally “in” – you no longer have to grow a beard and wear socks made from recycled cardboard boxes and corn husks to do your part in helping the environment.
Even when you are on the road, it is quite easy to help out. Some car rental companies jumped on board the green train ages ago by offering renters the option of a hybrid vehicle.
Enterprise, (the parent company of Alamo, Enterprise and National rent-a-car) took being green one step further, and introduced the largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the country.
In total, 5000 gas/electric hybrids are available from Enterprise branches, and 80 locations were designated “hybrid branches” where a high concentration of hybrid vehicles are available.
In addition to this, the company also offers a whopping 73,000 vehicles that are capable of running on the E85 ethanol blend.
Green renters can take things one step further by adding a $1.25 carbon offset option to rental agreements. This has been so successful that it was recently named the most popular consumer opt-in offset program in the industry.
Instead of relying on others to develop new technologies, Enterprise is also investing $25 Million in renewable fuels research and helping educate drivers on some basic tips on how to drive “green”.
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).
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.
The big auto rental companies are catching on to the hybrid craze. Toyota Priuses are coming to rental car fleets near you.
Hertz has a “Green Collection” of low-emissions and/or fuel efficient cars, such as the Subaru Outback and Ford Fusion. And coming very soon: 3,400 new Priuses. New York City is getting 100 of them. Rental rates start at $50 for these cars.
Plus, Hertz is donating $1 from the rentals to the National Park Foundation (up to a max of $1m).
Avis starts this week with their own fleet of 1,000 Priuses, in locations along the West Coast. (Ask for car group “XG.”)