First the Nissan Leaf, now the Chevy Volt. Enterprise has upped the ante in car rentals and will have Chevy’s much talked about alternative vehicle available by the end of January in one Southern California location.
With the inevitability of rising fuel prices, it’s good thinking to start offering more efficient vehicles to consumers. However, taking a risk with GM’s brand new concept shows extra panache and a higher than average level of commitment to a sustainable future. Although Volts will initially be available at only one location, the company can “test the waters” in a somewhat more controlled environment that way. Still, my guess is they’ll prove popular as curious people seek to try them out before making a purchase commitment that’s still scary to many Americans. More locations will be announced as vehicles are made available by Chevy.
As TreeHugger mentions, making these cars readily available as rentals has a multiplier effect. Many people get to drive each one, and assuming they’re satisfied, it means more people talking to more friends about their experience. Next thing you know, electrics go mainstream. It’s really a perfect, low risk way to ease people into new technology, not to mention a possible salvation for GM.
Enterprise is obviously aware of the trends toward greater efficiency in automobiles, and even car sharing. My favorite quote from their recent press release comes from Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise Holdings: ”“By embracing new, clean fuel and engine technologies like electric vehicles, Enterprise can help the passenger vehicle remain relevant by giving alternatives a chance to become commercially successful,” said Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise Holding”
To even entertain the idea that passenger vehicle is at risk of not being “relevant” some day is very forward thinking. Accepting that the passenger vehicle as we now know it will evolve and in some cases even be replaced by other technologies is what any forward thinking car company needs to be concerned with – especially over the next 20-30 years. Kudos to Enterprise for taking some first steps.
PS – Not to be outdone, Hertz is also planning to offer a variety of electric cars this year and has set up a special website, HertzEV to notify drivers when they become available. The Volt will also be available at Hertz, though exactly when and where is not yet released.