Connect by Hertz locations in New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco will be making up to 1,000 electric vehicles available to customers. Models will appear in New York midway through this month, and select Starwood Hotels will be promoting the cars to guests during the coming year.
Other partners include electric vehicle makers Chevy, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and smart USA.
"Hertz's partnership with smart USA is another strategic element of our long term plan to provide consumers with electric vehicle access on a global scale," said Mark P. Frissora, Hertz chairman and chief executive officer. "With its worldwide recognition, smart was a logical choice for our program and we're excited to begin offering the smart electric drive to our customers later this month."
Hertz announced its commitment to go green in September at the Clinton Global Initiative, but its initiatives had been strictly regional to date. The company calls the initiative Hertz Global EV, and the “smart” vehicles will be made available through its Connect by Hertz rental service.
Hertz has either calculated that electric vehicles could greatly reduce its operational costs, generate “goodwill,” or devised a clever marketing ploy to lure in eco-philes like myself. Regardless, its buying power will doubtlessly introduce many consumers to electric vehicles.
Hertz's chief competitor Zipcar discovered new green in the car rental business by servicing communities and introducing a subscription-pricing model. Connect by Hertz follows a similar model.
Zipcar brought hybrids onboard in 2003, and launched a pilot program for plug-in hybrid vehicles in California last year.