Green Rental Cars

This Christmas I was thinking of driving down to Florida from DC to visit my family rather than flying. I have a dog that I don't want to leave behind in a kennel. Plus, there will be many friends and family members to visit, so having a car will be more convenient. 

Since I live in the city, I don't own a car. To make the trip down to Orlando, I'd have to rent something. This got me thinking about how I could reduce my carbon footprint, and my travel costs, significantly by renting a hybrid like the Toyota Prius. 

I did the carbon emissions math first to make sure driving was less impactful than flying. It turns out that flying both of us down to Orlando and back would release 1.212 tons of CO2 into the air. Driving a Prius round-trip would only release 0.374 tons of CO2. 

It isn't as easy as you might think to rent a hybrid. Even though the technology has been around for years and many vehicles now integrate it into their engines, very few rental companies make it as intuitive to rent a hybrid as it is to rent an SUV, convertible or economy car. 

Here is a quick breakdown of the best route to rent a hybrid:
  • Although they only rent cars in a limited geographic area, Fox rental cars includes the option to select a hybrid vehicle from the list of available cars on their reservation page. Its the only rental car company I found that intuitively offers their hybrids alongside traditional cars on the website. Click HERE to find out if they rent in your area.
  • From THIS site you can view the Hertz "Green Collection" and select a fuel efficient car to rent. Unfortunately, you will find that availability is limited and it take several steps on the site just to find out whether a hybrid is available at your nearest location on a specific day. 
  • Orbitz has a reservation system specifically for booking hybrid vehicles in particular locations. You can find it HERE. I looked up a hybrid for my dates and locations but none were available so I'm not sure how well the system really works. 
  • I never knew this, but Toyota offers rental car service at several of their dealerships. You can view the available locations and vehicles on the website by clicking HERE. Unfortunately, you must submit a rental request and wait to be notified about availability and prices. 
  • Renting a hybrid from National, Budget and Enterprise is still an unnecessarily complicated process. The best thing to do is to call their sales lines and ask about the best location to rent one of their hybrids. For National (800-328-4567), Budget (800-527-0700) and Enterprise (800-261-7331).
There are regional rental car agencies that also have hybrids, but I'm not going to list them all here. After performing a quick Google search, I found that most of the regional hybrid rental companies are on the West coast.

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