Several major rental companies including Avis Budget Group, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Hertz are adding hybrids to their West Coast and Northeast locations. Some of the purchased hybrids include the Toyota Prius, Ford Escape, and Nissan Altima. Motorists will not only be able to rent a hybrid when there is a need, but may also use this as an opportunity to have a hybrid driving experience before purchasing a vehicle for themselves.

“Obviously we have customers who want them,” said Avis spokesman John Barrows. “There are other people out there who are interested in purchasing a hybrid but really want to check one out before buying one. Travelers are renting hybrids to make an environmental statement rather than to save money.”

Escape Hybrid

Renting a hybrid vehicle, such as this Ford Escape hybrid, is becoming a lot easier as major rental fleets are responding to customer demands for environmentally friendly options. Credit:

Even though the rental fleets are purchasing hybrids in large amounts to satisfy customer demand, they are not receiving large discounts.

“As a global leader in car rentals, we recognize our unique opportunity and obligation to promote environmental practices and give our customers environmentally friendly options,” said Mark Frissora, Hertz’s chairman and chief executive.

In 2008, Enterprise expects to have 4,500 hybrids, Hertz to have 3,600 hybrids, and Avis to have 1,500 of the vehicles.

“We’ve gone out and acquired as many hybrids as we can,” said Mario Nargi, vice president of fleet services at Dollar Thrifty Automotive. “Hybrids are in very short supply because retail demand is high. While it remains a small percentage of what we are doing, it’s growing as fast as we can make it grow.”

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