Is your car rental company environmentally conscience?
More and more travelers are asking this question, driving an increase in demand for cars with a smaller impact on our environment. And that impact can be directly attributed to two things. Prices at the pump and how the burning of fossil fuels affects our world.
The environment is front and center in many people's minds, with poor air quality directly attributed to the cars and trucks on our roads. And gasoline prices will continue to creep up as world-wide demand outstrips available supplies. The economies of countries such as China and India continue to grow, taxing the demand for oil with their increasing number of vehicles and expanding cities. Consequently, globetrotters are asking their car rental companies for hybrid vehicles or cars that deliver higher gas mileage.
Rental companies are at a bit of a disadvantage to meet the demand for hybrids and fuel efficient cars. They have been stocking their lots with large sedans and SUVs. Vehicles that don't exactly say "efficiency" and "economy".
Unfortunately, auto makers such as Toyota, one of the world-wide leaders in hybird technology, can't keep up with the rising demand. Consumer's are looking more and more to Toyota's Prius and Highlander, hybrids that have become the recognized staple among "green" buyers. Toyota said hybrids comprised 4.7 percent of its 2007 fleet sales, with buyers including rental car companies, businesses, and the government. Next year, hybrid sales are projected to climb to 7 percent of Toyota's fleet sales. But Toyota may not be able to meet the demand until sometime in 2008.
Companies that think green
Here is a list of car rental companies that, at the very least, are providing more fuel efficient cars. As time goes on, more will provide better access to hybrids as well. One company, EV Rental Cars, goes as far as to call itself "The Nation's Only Environmental Rental Car Company".
- Hertz Green Collection
- Avis Rent A Car
- National Car Rental
- Alamo Rent A Car
- EV Rental Cars
The name might be a little confusing. Hertz's Green Collection, at least for now, does not include any hybrids. They are touting fuel efficiency, with the four models they offer in the collection achieving 28 miles or more per gallon. Three of their cars, the Camry, Fusion and LaCrosse, also carry the EPA's SmartWay certification which indicates a vehicle emitting lower levels of air pollutants.
Here's a list of the cars they offer:
After doing some looking around, we discovered within Avis' Renter's Guide is their Fleet Display, showing a large selection of vehicles. You'll be interested in their Car Group XG where they display the Toyota Prius Hybrid.
National Car Rental National also features the Toyota Prius Hybrid but they also have the Toyota Camry Hybrid. The Camry has a little more room than the Prius for passengers and luggage.
- Toyota Prius Hybrid
- Toyota Camry Hybrid
Alamo is similar to National by offering the Prius and Camry hybrids as well. One thing to keep in mind with companies that offer both the Prius and Camry hybrids. The Camry will cost you more to rent. In Alamo's car-rental terminology, the Prius is considered a midsize car whereas the Camry is fullsize. But it may be worth getting the Camry for the added room and safety.
EV Rental Cars has hybrids available at EV Rental airport sites in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Phoenix. And as their hybrid cars are rotated out of service, the vehicles are offered for sale to the public. Additionally, if you are interested in purchasing a hybrid, check out car buying services such as Carseek. Even though the demand for hybrids is quite high, it's worth checking all of your car buying options for the best deal.
Here's a list of the cars EV Rental offers:
- Toyota Prius Hybrid
- Honda Civic Hybrid
- Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Unfortunately, Enterprise proved to be the odd one in the bunch. After looking their site over, we couldn't find any hybrids. Yes, they have economy models but if you are conscience of your carbon footprint, even when traveling, Enterprise won't be able to help much.
One thing to keep in mind when you are planning a trip is to contact car rental companies as soon as possible. Let them know that you would like, at the very least, a fuel efficient car. Ideally, ask for a hybrid. With so few available, reserving one early will help you get the car you want.
And as I mentioned above, use these car rental companies and other sources like Carseek to purchase hybrid vehicles. All rental companies rotate cars out of their stock as the miles on the cars increase and new cars come in. With supplies short, a used hybrid with a few miles is a viable option. If you prefer to purchase new, car buying services are worth a try to help you get the best deal.