The increased demand for "green" vehicles is spilling over to the rental car counter, where many more drivers will soon be able to choose a hybrid vehicle.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc said on Thursday it will spend US$68 million to add 3,400 Toyota Prius hybrids to its fleets by next year. Avis Budget Group Inc also said this week it plans to make 1,000 hybrid Prius vehicles available for rent as early as next week.
Brian Chee, an automotive analyst for Autobytel.com's soon to be launched Web site MyRide.com, said that even with the fleet expansions, hybrid vehicles still represent a small part of rental car fleets.
"This is a first step," Chee said. "It'll be interesting to see if the rental car companies continue this. Like other companies, they're making a `green' statement, and this is a good way to do it."
By replacing 1,000 of its ordinary cars with the gas-electric Prius models, Hertz said it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 2,700 tonnes per year.
"Today highlights the next step in what is already a multiyear effort by Hertz to promote environmental sustainability throughout the company," said Mark Frissora, the company's chairman and chief executive.
"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," he said.
Hertz said its hybrid vehicles will be available for rent at 50 of the company's US airport locations, with 100 of them reserved for its New York City fleet.
The stop-and-go flow of Manhattan traffic provides an ideal driving environment for the hybrids, allowing them to mainly operate off of their electric motors, the company said.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the greater availability of hybrid rental cars is in line with his city's goal to reduce its emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030.
"These hybrid cars really put Hertz in the driver's seat ... in meeting one of the greatest challenges of our time, which is global warming," Bloomberg told the gathering.
John Barrows, a spokesman for Avis, said this week his company will offer Prius hybrids in its California, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Washington markets but may expand the locations in the future based on consumer demand.
Barrows said Avis also believes that the Prius will not only appeal to travelers, but those interested in buying a hybrid.
"Obviously we have customers who want them," he said. "And there are other people out there who are interested in purchasing a hybrid but really want to check one out before buying one."
Chee said the rentals offer Toyota Motor Corp a chance to showcase the Prius, as well as give potential buyers a chance to decide if a hybrid is right for them.
"I do think it's a risky move for Toyota, because what they're saying is: `Here's the car, here's how it drives, we stand by our power train, and we think it'll win people over,'" Chee said.
"It shows Toyota's confidence that it will win over fans when they don't have to buy it," he said.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car also operates a fleet of more than 3,000 hybrid vehicles, in addition to 41,000 flex-fuel cars and light trucks that can run on ethanol-based fuel.
At the start of their first-ever virtual World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO member states agreed to delay a controversial discussion on granting Taiwan observer status until later in the year. The agreement came after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pledged to launch an independent probe to review the coronavirus pandemic response as soon as possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) announced that China would provide US$2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. Despite the US and other members stepping up pressure in recent days, the WHA unanimously agreed to postpone a decision on observer
Another automatic 30-day visa extension for foreigners who entered Taiwan on or before March 21 this year has been granted, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced yesterday during the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) daily news briefing. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had granted an initial automatic 30-day visa extension on March 21 for foreigners who entered Taiwan on or before that date with a visa waiver, visitor’s visa or landing visa — and another on April 17, as part of tightened border control measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Many foreigners who arrived in Taiwan on holidays or for
PROTEST SENT: Despite a wave of international support Taiwan did not receive an invite, which means that it and all WHO members would lose out, the two ministers said Taiwan deeply regrets and is very dissatisfied that it was not invited to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), which began a virtual meeting yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said. During the Central Epidemic Command Center’s daily news conference, Chen, who heads the center, said that as of 2pm, Taiwan had not received an invitation to the meeting, which was to begin at 6pm Taiwan time. “We put in our efforts [to get invited] up until the last moment, but it seems that we are unlikely to be invited,
US lawmakers and officials are crafting proposals to push US companies to move operations or key suppliers out of China that include tax breaks, new rules and carefully structured subsidies. Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress show widespread discussions underway — including the idea of a “reshoring fund” originally stocked with US$25 billion — to encourage US companies to drastically revamp their relationship with China. US President Donald Trump has long pledged to bring manufacturing back from overseas, but the spread of COVID-19 and related concerns about US medical and food supply chains