Rabu, 29 Juli 2009

Car Rental & the Environment

With the environment such a hot topic around the world and especially in the transport industry, there are companies that are embracing new environmentally friendly technology. Hybrid Cars and ever increasingly fuel efficient diesel cars are becoming more available to mainstream motorists. I used to work for a corporate travel company and many of the major corporations were requesting the inclusion of Hybrid cars in their contracts. This was more to do with increasing business opportunities by being seen to be green as opposed to wanting to be green!

The question arises when people travel and want to maintain their commitment to the green cause. Car Rental companies will be the ones providing these vehicles... or will they?

I have chosen (for the Australia traveller) major car companies that you can book 'green cars' with. Working for DriveAway Holidays here in Australia, the most common request is for diesel cars. This is driven out of cost concerns and also the occasional environmental concern. (Shouldn't it be the other way around??)

First off the rank is Avis Rental Cars.

In Australia, the group L car will give you a Toyota Hybrid. This car is the favorite for the car rental companies due to it being built by Toyota.

In the UK, there doesn't appear to be any green cars, although there may be diesel cars on fleet, Avis don't make them easy to find.

In the USA, like Australia, the Toyota Hybrid under group XG is available.

Second off the cab rank is Hertz Rental Cars.

In Australia, like Avis, the Toyota Hybrid is the car of choice. Book a group G and you will get this car.

In the UK, Hertz has a range of fuel efficient diesels on fleet but no hybrids. This seems to be a common factor in the UK. Being an expat, I know that Toyota car prices in the UK are reasonably expensive compared to other european manufactured vehicles

In the USA, Hertz has a range of Hybrids, although on some of the cars, I couldn't tell if they were Hybrid or not.

Now, all credit to Hertz as they do promote their green cars as part of their Green Fleet. Avis don't appear to market their green cars in any way, which is a shame.

Third on the cab rank is Europcar Rental Cars.

Again, unlike Hertz, they appear not to promote their green fleet. Looking at their Australia Fleet guide, they have the regular passenger vehicles such as Small, Medium, Large, Prestige, Minivans, Sport, 4WD. Europcar list the green car as part of there regular fleet, however, it does have it's unique identifier (IHAR) in Australia.

In the UK, Europcar doesn't appear to have any green offerings. Maybe it's something you can request at pick up. Personally, if I could book a green car over the internet, I would do so with a company that offered that service.

In the USA, I chose LAX as Europcar have a limited presence. There were no cars I could find that looked green.

To Europcar's defence, in other parts of Europe where they are particularly strong, one is able to guarantee a diesel for an extra few euros per day.

In this brief look, Hertz appears to be the only car rental company that is actively promoting green cars. Avis & Europcar seem to be a bit hap hazard in their approach to a green fleet. Whilst it may be a case of logistics and a supply issue, there is no reason why they couldn't promote their green cars.
I am sure that in 12 months time, the situation will be that every car rental company will be actively marketing green cars. The consumer can currently offset their CO2 emissions in the various transport sectors and I am sure that the car rental industry will follow suit in the near future.

The Environment is a marketers dream and I do think that some of the car rental companies have missed the boat so far. Hopefully their marketing departments will wake up and smell the cleaner air..

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