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Program introduces electric rental cars in Orlando

This Sept. 4, 2013 photo shows an electric car at a charge point in front of city hall in Orlando, Fla. On Thursday, Sept. 5, Orlando will be home to a first-of-its-kind electric rental car initiative where hotel partners will valet park the electric rental for free and charge it for you. Orlando already has more than 300 stations in the area. Photo: John Raoux

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Visitors to Orlando often try new things while on vacation: thrilling roller coasters, luxury hotels, different cuisines.

Now they can try out a fully electric car — and not have to pay for gas during their vacation.

Under a new program announced Thursday called Drive Electric Orlando, anyone who rents one of 15 Nissan Leaf cars from Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be able to charge the car for free. There are about 300 charging stations in the greater Orlando area, with many located at hotels, near theme parks and even downtown outside of City Hall.

“This is a first of its kind. This is groundbreaking,” said Robbie Diamond, the president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Electrification Coalition, a group that worked with Enterprise, several hotels, corporations and local officials to organize the program.

The group, whose aim is to get more people behind the wheel of electric cars, is made up of business executives, including some from Nissan — which means they have an interest in marketing the rental cars in hopes of courting future buyers.

“Our hope is that it’s a revolutionary project — once we get people in the car, we’re confident that the technology will sell itself,” Diamond said.
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