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USA: Travelers see more e-car options

Rental car companies and hotels are making it easier for travelers who want to help save the environment and not spend extra money on high gasoline prices.

Major car rental companies are increasingly adding electric cars to their already growing hybrid car fleets. And hotels are installing electric charging stations or giving electric and hybrid car drivers breaks on pricey parking fees.

Travelers have never had so many options for more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly cars. And as pump prices rise, more travelers are taking advantage of them, rental car agencies and hotels say. The average national price of a gallon of regular was $3.76 on Friday, up 28 cents from a month ago, according to AAA.

“Overall, there is interest from our customers in alternative-fueled vehicles — and certainly the increase in gas prices increases consumer awareness and interest in learning more about fuel-efficient car rental options,” says Lisa Martini, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental.

What they’ll learn is that they could end up having to use some of the money they save on gasoline to pay for renting the car. Most rental companies charge higher daily rates for hybrid or electric cars.

Indicative of the fuel-efficient rental options open to travelers: — Avis Budget Group has added Chevy Volt electric cars to its fleet at New York’s LaGuardia Airport as part of a pilot program. More broadly, the company offers Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay Certified green vehicles that earn high marks for how environmentally friendly they are as measured by air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

• Enterprise has Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt electric cars at about 50 Enterprise Rent-A-Car sites and in its car-sharing program. Electric vehicles also are available at a few Alamo locations. With hybrid cars, the company’s alternative fuel fleet surpasses 400.
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