Hertz Rents Electric Vehicles, Competitors to Catch Up Quickly

On Monday, Hertz announced that it will offer electric vehicles (EV) for an hourly rate starting Dec. 15 in New York City, followed by an expansion to Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

The all-electric Nissan LEAF, which has a range of 100 miles per charge, will be available for rental from Hertz and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. (Nissan Press Photo)

Part of the Connect by Hertz car sharing operation, the company plans a full-scale deployment of EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in the U.S. and other countries throughout 2011.

Hertz says it will use its rental and car sharing locations as bases for vehicles and charging stations. The company has ordered vehicles from Nissan, GM, Toyota, smartUSA and Mitsubishi.

The launch of its EV program supports Hertz’s goal of expanding usage of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The company is working to establish partnerships with manufacturers, charging station providers, municipalities, NGOs, corporations and other stakeholders. Hertz has already signed an agreement with NRG Energy Inc. to support development of a charging infrastructure and services for EVs in Texas.

“By introducing EVs in New York, Washington and San Francisco, we’re the first to make tomorrow’s driving experience available to consumers today and we look forward to continue building out our EV platform, making electric mobility a reality for consumers worldwide,” says Mark P. Frissora, chairman and CEO.

While Hertz is the first to provide consumers with access to EVs on a global scale, its competitors aren’t far behind. Earlier this year, Enterprise Rent-A-Car laid out its plan for its distribution of electric vehicles. According to Enterprise spokesperson Lisa Martini, the company will receive 500 Nissan LEAFs over the course of 2011. Starting in January, the EV program will be available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Ore., Seattle, Phoenix and Nashville.

Martini explains that the initial launch will coincide with Nissan’s path of infrastructure for its EV charging stations. Enterprise, who also operates Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental, says it plans on installing charging stations in its rental locations as well.

“This will be great for customers to experience an electric vehicle,” Martini says. “That’s why we’re putting charging stations in our rental locations. That’s why it makes sense to start out where Nissan already has charging stations.”

The company plans on offering more EV models as they become available. Currently, Enterprise does not offer an hourly rental EV system like Hertz, and the company is still unsure about the exact roll-out date of the program. However, Martini estimates that it will likely be in the next couple of weeks.

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