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Santa Cruz Enterprise Rent-a-Car offers electrics

SANTA CRUZ — The Enterprise Rent-a-Car on Ocean Street is turning over a new Leaf.

A couple, in fact. Last week the branch became one of a handful from the company in Northern California to offer all-electric Nissan Leafs for rent, giving customers who are thinking about ditching gas-guzzlers a chance to take an extended test drive in an emissions-free ride.

“The prevailing wisdom is ‘Hey, you gotta get someone behind the wheel and get them to drive one,'” said Piet Canin of Ecology Action, which is helping Enterprise educate customers and promote the Leafs. “This was one strategy to do that.”

While Enterprise bought two cars — the 919 Ocean St. location is one of the few to have them — Ecology Action and other groups are supporting the rentals with the help of a $90,000 grant from the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District.

With the cars in stock since last week, Enterprise has already seen customers take them for a spin. The branch is working with Ecology Action to come up with easy-to-understand operating instructions and a list of local charging stations.

The first person to rent one liked the car, but changed it after a few days when he couldn’t locate a reliable charging station near his Silicon Valley job. The second went to a woman who spent about 30 minutes learning the ins-and-outs before proceeding merrily on her way.

“She was very skeptical, but by taking all that extra time with her, she left
with the biggest smile on her face,” branch manager Eron Fitt said.

The program is so new the paperwork still needs to catch up. Where Fitt normally writes down a car’s gas level, he just crosses that section out. Enterprise also installed its own charging station, so customers always get a full compliment of electrons.

The cars rent for a premium over gas-powered sedans. Rates will vary, but on Tuesday were $45-$55 per day compared to a regular midsize sedan, which rented for $28-$35.

But customers don’t have to pay for fuel. They run up to 100 miles on a charge and come with everything from Bluetooth capability to a built-in navigation system


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