Hertz challenges Zipcar in the Rent-By-Hour Market with Hybrid Electric Vehicles

By dancurranjr On December 7th, 2010

Hertz’s answer to Zipcar is going green – letting eco-conscious New Yorkers rent plug-in autos by the hour.

The all-electric Nissan Leaf doesn’t even hit the market until next week, so I gladly parked my gas-guzzler to test drive Connect by Hertz’s model yesterday.

Here’s what I learned: If you need to take the car to the electrical outlet after the shopping outlet, you might need a lead foot.

The car looks just like any other, except there’s no tailpipe and it starts up by passing a black key card over the dashboard.

The first thing I noticed was there was no hum. The Leaf was virtually silent as I maneuvered through midtown traffic. It handled well, but you have to step hard on the gas to get it moving from a full stop. Over-acceleration won’t be an issue, though. The top speed is 90 mph.

The Leaf typically takes about eight hours to charge at a special station – or up to 20 hours in a regular household outlet.

Hertz has eight stations in Manhattan to charge the cars, and plans for some in the outer boroughs. A full charge costs about $2.

Connect by Hertz is the rental giant’s effort to compete in the car-share market. Customers pay a $50 membership fee and $6 to $7 an hour. Several electric or hybrid models will be available starting Dec. 15.

“It makes it attractive to people who want to rent a car but don’t want to to pay a lot for the privilege,” said Rich Broome, a Hertz senior vice president.

Zipcar does not have electric cars in its New York fleet, but has used them in other cities.

“We continue to evaluate the technology and we definitely welcome Hertz to the space,” said Zipcar spokesman Greg Winter.

SOURCE: NY Daily News

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