Car renters attempting to be responsible environmental stewards now have an option aside from choosing a traditional subcompact over a full-size car. A handful of green car rental companies are filling that niche, and some majors are adding hybrids to their fleets.
One of the oldest and largest green car rental companies is EV Rental Cars. Its fleet includes 425 electric, natural gas and hybrid electric cars at eight airport locations: Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Oakland, California;
Orange County, California; Phoenix; San Diego; San Francisco and San Jose, California. The company plans to expand its fleet to 1,000 vehicles by the end of 2006.
Fox Rent a Car Inc., a Los Angeles-based independent car rental company, has partnered with EV, adding several airport locations, including the local Long Beach and Burbank airports, to EV's hybrid offerings. (Travelers can book through EV or Fox for a hybrid car.) Starting in September, going green can save business travelers some green: Fox will offer a 5 percent discount on rentals to corporate accounts. For information, visit www.foxrentacar.com.
Bio-Beetle's cars are fueled by environmentally friendly biodiesel. Bio-Beetle's modest fleet in Los Angeles consists of five Volkswagens, but the Maui fleet includes 16 vehicles, according to founder Shaun Stenshol, who began his company in Maui three years ago and added the LAX location this year. A tank of gas is good for 400 to 800 miles, depending on the car make and the driving conditions. Weekly rates begin at $199 in Los Angeles and $229 in Maui. For information, go to www. bio-beetle.com.
Enterprise Rent-a-Car offers the Ford Escape hybrid SUV in California. At one of its Portland, Oregon, locations, the company recently launched a pilot program involving five Jeep Liberties that run B20, a type of biodiesel fuel. Depending on demand, the company will expand the fleet this summer. The extra cost for the B20 Liberties: $5 a day more than comparable cars running on gas, plus slightly higher fuel costs for biodiesel.
Julie Molineis a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.