Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced last week they will add nearly 5,000 gas/electric hybrid vehicles to its nationwide rental fleet and designate 80 “hybrid rental branches” – locations with a high concentration of hybrid vehicles available – in 24 major markets across the country including 10 of the nation’s busiest airports.
This latest addition doubles the number of hybrid vehicles Enterprise owns, significantly adding to what is already the largest rental fleet of fuel efficient cars in the country.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Enterprise actively supports alternative fuel research through the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (I had the opportunity last October to chat with Dr. Richard Sayre, the Institute’s newly-named director ). An overview of this and other environmental sustainability programs in which Enterprise is involved is explained on their website KeystoGreen.com.
To be sure, Enterprise is not an environmental advocacy organization – they rent cars. As Pat Farrell, Enterprise’s vice president for corporate responsibility, told me in an interview last September, “We are not environmentalists.”
In our talk, Pat emphasized that the philosophy behind the company’s CSR efforts rests in the conviction that doing well for the planet, to the extent that a rental car company can, is what their customers increasingly expect and demand, and is ultimately in the best interests of Enterprise’s long-term bottom line.
More cars, more options in response to customer desire
Enterprise, along with her sister companies National and Alamo car rental, have nearly 450,000 cars in their combined fleet with a rating of at least 28 mpg or better and 230,000 cars in the fleet average 32 mpg or better. 425,000 cars have earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay certification – vehicles certified by the EPA as relatively low emitters of both regulated pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Enterprise also has eight designated “E85/FlexFuel” branches where up to 30% of the local fleets are FlexFuel vehicles capable of using E85 blended fuel (85% ethanol/15% gasoline).
Customers can opt to offset their vehicle emissions through a $1.25 fee per rental that helps to fund certified offset projects through TerraPass. Enterprise’s charitable fund matches customers contributions to the fund dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million.
Greenwash or Green?
I asked that question in the post I wrote last fall after talking with Pat Farrell. My conclusion now remains as it was then: neither. Enterprise was not founded as a triple-bottom-line company with a mission to save the world. But it’s just as important that “old school” companies like Enterprise understand how their operations impact the world and to do what they can to make it a better more sustainable one for future generations. That’s the best insurance for any company’s sustainability.