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Hertz Details Hourly Electric Car Rentals Including Nissan, Chevy, Mitsubishi, Tesla, Smart, and Coda

Betting that curious consumers will want to spend some extended time behind the wheel before committing, Hertz will offer by-the-hour electric car rentals starting this month in select markets.

As part of their global “EV Initiative,” the company will make electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Tesla Roadster, Smart ED, and Coda Sedan available for rental under its Connect by Hertz car sharing program. The option to rent an electric car will first become available to New York City residents on December 15, 2010, followed over the course of the next year by San Francisco, Washington D.C., Texas and London. In addition, Hertz is considering making the program available to college campuses in North America and says that China will be included by the end of 2011.

“Hertz is the first to provide consumers with electric vehicle access on a global scale,” said Mark P. Frissora, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in a statement. “By introducing EVs in New York, Washington and San Francisco, we’re the first to make tomorrow’s driving experience available to consumers today and we look forward to continue building out our EV platform, making electric mobility a reality for consumers worldwide.”

The program is starting relatively small due to the difficulty in obtaining the vehicles right now; only 20 EVs will be available for the entire program by the second quarter of 2011. Even so, the company says it hopes to have between 500 and 1,000 vehicles in the program by the end of next year.

To book one of the vehicles, you need to first sign up for a Connect by Hertz membership. Similar to other car sharing programs, Connect operates on a first come, first serve basis and reservations are only accepted online. It costs money to join, plus an annual fee, but if you sign up on www.hertzev.com, between now and Christmas, you will receive a one-year free membership. According to the Connect by Hertz site, that’s a savings of $50 for an annual membership at the lowest rate.
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