Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Future Looks GREEN for Car Hire

A study by car hire company Avis recently discovered that, since 2007, Europeans’ concern over their impact on the environment has risen by 55%, increasing the demand for companies to behave ethically. Almost 50% of Europeans, including 32% of British citizens, expressed the desire to minimise the impact their travel has on the environment.

Many believe that tighter controls should be applied for businesses failing to adopt environmentally friendly practices and the study revealed that 8 out of every 10 customers believe that businesses should be issued with penalties for neglecting to take steps towards safeguarding the environment.

Recently, Avis launched ‘’ a website which informs customers on how to make environmentally responsible choices, tips on how to reduce their carbon footprint and details Avis’s Carbon Neutral projects, such as: Supporting a hydropower project in China, collecting methane from animal waste in Germany, replanting trees in Snowdonia and investing in a bio-mass project in India.

Since 1997, Avis claim to have offset 147,000 tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent as driving a car 17,299 times around the equator, and have been a CarbonNeutral® company since 2000, which means that they are obliged to offset every tonne of CO2 they produce. Nick Mountfield, Head of Marketing, Avis UK said that Avis recognise the importance of leading the way on environmental matters and confirmed their long term commitment to sustainable developments.

Adding to ongoing projects, Avis recently partnered with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to offer electric cars to its customers from 2011, adding these to their ‘Green Fleet’, a partnership that Senior Vice President, Renault Corporate Sales Division, Uwe Hochgeschurtz says “...will play an important role in enabling customers to experience the new technology and learn about the environmental benefits of electric vehicles, which are sure to become a significant alternative for car travel in the future”.

For many big name car hire companies throughout Europe, adding hybrid cars to their fleets has been an increasingly popular move over the past few years, with Japanses and other Asian makes the most purchased vehicles. The Toyota Pruis, a fully hybrid electric car, dubbed as one of the most fuel efficient gasoline car currently sold, has been the most popular choice. Avis UK and Avis Scandanavia recently introduced 20 new Toyota Prius vehicles to their selection, whereas their Italian fleets include the LPG fuelled Volkswagon. Hertz expanded its ‘Green Fleet’ in 2008 by introducing 3,400 Toyota Prius cars, a trend also adopted by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, who offer a considerable amount of hybrid cars amongst their available vehicles.

Smaller companies are doing their bit too. Within the UK, ‘Green Motion’, launched in 2005, claims to be ‘the world's first truly environmentally friendly car and van hire company’. Green motion was awarded ‘Rental Company of the year 2009’ in the UK’s ‘Green Fleet Awards’ last year, for producing 50g/km of carbon less than its nearest national rental rival.

‘Going Green’ is becoming big business; Hertz anticipates an increase in the number of people who wish to rent the most fuel-efficient vehicles and the market for low-CO2 cars in general is expected to grow increasingly strong in the coming years. With global fuel prices ever on the rise, it’s no big surprise that more fuel efficient options are becoming the more popular choices amongst customers and, costing around 10% less to run overall, can actually save the car hire companies cash in the long run. Add the growing environmental concerns of customers, and companies who are marketing themselves on their Green credentials are starting to win over more and more customers than those who don’t.

The success of current ‘Green fleets’ and predictions for future growth have spawned a new breed of ‘Green’ car companies and many existing firms have been quick to jump on the ‘green wave’. However, it’s still worth doing your research, as some companies appear to be applying the ‘Green’ tag, whilst not proving, or some not even mentioning, their environmental commitments. You’d be forgiven for assuming that ‘Green Rent a Car’ and ‘Go Green Car Rental’ were amongst the pioneers of Green car rental but their websites do not refer to co2 reduction, Green fleets or, in-fact, environmental concerns at all, and whilst ‘Green-Car-Hire-UK’ promises that they are “working hard to become one of the UK's best fully environmentally friendly car rental companies, offering the latest range of vehicles, with the lowest possible CO2 levels”, last time I checked it looked like they’d failed to detail exactly how they planning to meet these claims.

So, the future looks green for car hire companies. Driven by consumer demand, big names have made significant headway and with many smaller firms are celebrating their commitments, the field for customers to make environmentally responsible decisions is becoming more accessible. However, it’s our responsibility as customers to continue to fuel the eco-friendly drive and to ensure that we continue to make careful choices before assuming that any company brandishing the ‘Green’ label is necessarily is environmentally conscious!

Photo Taken From Allegheny College website

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