Electric rental cars are set to take to the streets next year with both the Hertz and Enterprise Rent-A-Car companies committing to adding electric vehicles to their fleets. Next week (December 15) Hertz plans to begin its ConnectByHertz car sharing program in New York City with the service expanding to San Francisco, Washington D.C, Texas, London and China by the end of 2011. Meanwhile Enterprise has announced that from January 2011 they will begin rolling out EV rentals in Phoenix, Tucson, Knoxville, Nashville, San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle, although it is not clear how many vehicles will be available at each location and from what date.
Hertz plans to make 500 to 1,000 all-electric cars available in the U.S in 2011, while Enterprise said they will be receiving 500 EVs in January. Both companies have named the Nissan LEAF to be included in their new fleets while Hertz has also indicated that it will be purchasing an unknown quantity of the Mistubishi i-MiEV, Chevy Volt, and electric cars from Coda and Smart.
The Hertz ConnectByHertz program will see the vehicles rented at a by-the-hour rate in a car sharing style arrangement.
Hertz head of communications, Rich Broome, explains: "Traditionally in the U.S, a mark of adulthood is owning a car. Those habits are changing in some places, especially cities and college campuses for some good reasons. They're not just environmental but personal financial reasons. We can help people think around the question: do I really need to own a vehicle? We want people to be able to try these new EVs out, for something around or less than $10 an hour. When they do, hopefully they'll see the cars are fun to drive, they handle nicely, the braking is smooth and they have nice acceleration."
Director of sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, Lee Broughton, said that he believed that his company was at the forefront of determining consumer acceptance of new technologies.
"As a company that owns and operates the world's largest fleet of passenger vehicles, we have a vested interest and a history of working with manufacturers to integrate alternative-powered vehicles into our fleet," he said. "With airport and neighborhood locations within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S population, our Enterprise Rent-A-Car offices are uniquely positioned to test the market viability of new alternative fuel technologies like the electric vehicle with daily commuters nationwide," Broughton said.