About a month ago, Enterprise Rent-A-Car sent out an exciting announcement: More than 80 Enterprise locations added hybrid vehicles. Three of these spots were in Los Angeles — and one spot was just a few blocks away from me!
So I quickly visited Enterprise’s website to check out the new offerings. Sure enough — My closest location now sported a little green leaf (above), marking it as a hybrid-happy spot!
Unfortunately, renting a hybrid, I discovered, was not cheap.
On the day I did the search, renting a conventional standard car cost only $35.19 for the whole day, as you can see above. Renting a hybrid standard car, on the other hand, cost $58.07 — more than the price of renting an SUV, a pick-up truck, or a cargo van!
Why the big price difference? Enterprise noted that rates vary. To prove its point, Enterprise sent me rates for a location in Portland, Oregon. There, a conventional standard car cost $39.59, and a hybrid standard $44.54 a day — a less glaring difference in price.
Enterprise also told me that “hybrid vehicles are priced slightly higher because they require more of an initial investment at purchase” — though I found this point rather odd: Don’t pick-up trucks and SUVs also “require more of an initial investment at purchase”?
Still, I thought maybe I wasn’t giving Enterprise enough credit. After all, before, NO hybrid vehicles were available. Perhaps expensive hybrid rentals are a step forward — at least wealthier people for whom the price difference isn’t such a big deal can opt for a more eco-ride. I’ve heard speakers at green conferences say they specifically rented a more expensive hybrid to “make a statement” — since arriving in a gas guzzling SUV could get them in trouble.
So I asked Enterprise — Can one get a guaranteed reservation for a hybrid car? After all, when I reserve a rental car, I book the smallest economy car — but often get a “free upgrade” into a bigger car that’ll cost me more in gas money when I get to the Enterprise location, because all the economy cars have already been rented.
I asked about this twice — but my Enterprise contact suddenly went mum — which I take as a no on the guaranteed reservation issue.
So: If you’d like to take advantage of Enterprise’s wonderful new eco-initiative, make a much more expensive reservation for a hybrid car you may or may not get!